This is Lever Weekly, a recap of our work from the past week. If you only read one email from us all week, this should be it.

Below you will find a breakdown of our reporting, podcasts, videos, and live events — a feature now open to all subscribers. Following that, we are providing paid subscribers with an original column, written by a member of The Lever, connecting the dots on our coverage to deliver important takeaways.

In this week’s column, exclusively for paid subscribers, Managing Editor Joel Warner explores the big-money interests jockeying to control cannabis legalization efforts in the wake of President Joe Biden’s recently announced marijuana reform proposal.

Stuff The Lever Reported This Week:

  • Health Insurers Get Government Cash, Then Jack Up Prices “The nation’s major health insurance companies are receiving most of their money from the government, they just jacked up prices by double digits, and nearly half of the country is now underinsured or uninsured.”
  • Capitalizing On The Refugee Crisis “[Big] companies are bankrolling GOP politicians who are raising campaign money off of their public abuse of immigrants — while mistreating their workers and expressly tying the worth of refugees to their labor productivity.”
  • GOP Govs Reject Cannabis Pardons After Getting Private Prison Cash “Those three governors have raked in more than $263,000 from donors linked to the private prison industry, which profits off tough-on-crime policies and incarceration. In all, the private prison industry has funneled more than $1 million into state elections in the last 4 years, mostly to Republicans.”
  • A $21 Million Anti-Abortion Ad Blitz In Michigan “Anti-abortion forces have recently flooded the airwaves with more than $13 million worth of negative ads — outspending pro-choice groups in the state by nearly two to one.”
  • Intel’s Multi-Billion Bait And Switch “Just a couple of months after Intel’s multi-million dollar lobbying effort succeeded in winning microchip companies billions of dollars in no-strings-attached corporate subsidies, Intel is reportedly planning to lay off thousands of workers.”
  • Will Louisiana Finally Get Its First Black Senator? “When every policy decision is made in this state about resources that are allocated to solve problems, Black people are disadvantaged in that conversation. And taxation without representation is about as un-American as you can be, right?”
  • YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: Gig Workers Get A Leg Up “Also, an anti-abortion case with national ramifications was stopped in its tracks, unionized nurses in the Midwest are holding hospitals accountable, wind farms are proving to be a great return on investment, and Delaware is breaking cycles of debt with a bold new policy.”
  • 🎧LEVER TIME: Biden's Marijuana Plan: The Good, The Bad, And The Corporate Interests “Joel and Shaleen break down every aspect of Biden’s plan, as well as the corporate interests hoping to turn a profit from marijuana legalization.”
  • 🎧THE AUDIT: We’re Auditing George W. Bush’s MasterClass “Dave, Josh, and Kate pick apart Bush’s whitewashing of his own legacy, offer a retrospective on his charmed life in Texas, and mull the disastrous consequences of his presidency.”
  • 🎧LEVER LIVE: Billionaires’ Doomsday Prep (w/ Douglas Rushkoff) “David Sirota is joined by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff to discuss the very real machinations of the ultra-wealthy as they prepare for a ‘world-ending’ event. Unfortunately for us — they’re only planning on saving themselves.”
  • 🎧 LEVER TIME PREMIUM: How To "Ruggedize" Your Life (w/ Alex Steffen) “David Sirota chats with acclaimed climate futurist Alex Steffen about the practicalities of building sustainable infrastructure, and how to “ruggedize” your life in the face of climate change.”

Weed The People

At the start of 2014, as a Colorado-based freelance writer, I began reporting on the launch of the world’s first legalized cannabis industry. For the next four years, I covered the legalization of marijuana for publications large and small. I attended a flashy cannabis convention in Las Vegas, shadowed the country’s top marijuana prohibitionist in Washington, D.C., explored the country’s only government-run pot shop in Washington state, and embedded with old-school marijuana farmers in the California hills.

At the end of my time on the beat, I came away with an unexpected realization: Legal cannabis, despite decades of strict prohibition and societal taboos, was shaping up to become just like any other business.

That development, as illustrated by The Lever’s coverage this week, is both a relief — and a cause for concern.