Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
You could say that both the cannabis industry and the food industry are two of the most contentious industries in the world at the moment. On the one hand, the world is undergoing a drastic change in terms of cannabis law reform. On the other hand, the food industry is constantly being scrutinized for its somewhat unethical and unsustainable practices.
Both industries are fundamentally important on a social, political and legal level. They represent things that are inherent to human health and functioning, such as medicine and food. They are also industries that have the power to exploit people, and this is why regulation is important.
At the moment, the food industry is heavily regulated in the USA by the FDA. However, cannabis, as an emerging industry, is still in the process of being regulated. In spite of food regulations, there is still a lot of contention surrounding what goes into our food, how it is manufactured and how it is marketed. In some ways, the two industries starkly contrast each other; while the unregulated cannabis industry demonstrates the danger in lack of regulation, the food industry demonstrates the kind of corruption that can occur throughout regulatory standards.
For example, the cannabis industry confronts issues of accurate labeling and marketing. In a mostly unregulated industry, it’s easy for unethical product manufacturers to mislead customers or outright lie when it comes to product labeling. A product that says it contains 100mg CBD doesn’t necessarily contain 100mg CBD, and there is no universal body which regulates these things. In some states, such as California, we are beginning to see state-imposed regulatory standards. But until this happens wide spread across the USA, the responsibility is left in the hands of the consumer.
The food industry is the other side of the coin. Every food product is regulated by the FDA, but there nonetheless remain controversies about the decisions made by the FDA. For example, GMO foods are increasingly produced in the USA, subject to FDA approval. But there exist public concerns over the safety of GMO foods and the technology used to create them. Viral DNA is used in the modification process, and it is largely understood how this is going to affect the human race over the long term. Plus, there are concerns about the possibility of those genes being taken up by the people who consume GMO foods. However, the scariest aspect of all is that until now, GMO foods do not require labelling. This means that the average consumer, even with all of their diligence, can’t differentiate between a GMO food and a non-GMO food.
Overall, the cannabis industry represents the personal discretion every consumer must have in the face of an unregulated industry. The food industry, on the other hand, shows some of the potential dangers when the regulating body of certain substances is subject to corruption, power or financial leverage. It is not unreasonable for Americans to wonder why the exact amount of carbohydrates or proteins are required for labelling, but GMO is not.
In any case, what these two industries show is that public education and personal discretion is increasingly important in the modern age. After 100 year of prohibition, the world is finally learning that cannabis has therapeutic benefits. And at the same time, we are learning that governing bodies such as the FDA purposefully withhold information from consumers. In this way, the public is becoming more and more congnizant of the fact that governments are also changing and shifting, and that we don’t have to rely on their every word all of the time. What’s more important than relying on governments is being proactive in our own health and wellbeing and making decisions based on what we know and trust — rather than what we are told.