Recently, a new conservative boogeyman (and woman) have been in the news, Liz and Dick Uihlein (pronounced ULine, like the company they founded).
The Uihlein’s were a major driving force behind the recent Supreme Court decision which eviscerated worker’s rights. Their company, which produces boxes and shipping supplies, is also utilized by many cannabis businesses. Like many, you may now be wondering, who are the Uihleins?
When most people think about the pantheon of rich, white, Republican donors, they think about names like Koch, Adelson and Mercer. While those are some of the most widely reported on funders for conservative causes around the country, they are not the only ones. For years the Uihleins have been working in the shadows, while avoiding much of the negative press that has beleaguered their fellow billionaire kingmakers.
While the Uihleins are most well-known for starting the packing and office material supply conglomerate ULine, Dick comes from old money and is an heir to the Schlitz beer fortune. In just this current election cycle, the Uihleins have already spent over $26 million to support more than 60 far-right anti-establishment candidates. In previous years, they backed Roy Moore, even after his sexual misconduct became public knowledge.
As many conservatives now support legal cannabis, it is worth asking, where do the Uihleins stand on cannabis?
“Have the politicians gone mad?” Liz wrote in a 2017 company mailer. “Marijuana… affects your children or grandchildren, who may be busy telling you it’s safer than alcohol. It’s bad news. It remains a gateway drug.”
While Liz did also raise important safety concerns about workers being high and climbing “30 feet in the air to pick products off the shelves,” that is why employers can, and do, drug test their employees, even in states with legal cannabis. That misinformed newsletter was the first public sign of the Uihlein’s private views on cannabis legalization.
Cannabis Businesses Begin to #BoycottULine
The Evergreen Market ran a story last year about ULine’s opposition to legal cannabis, which appears to be the first article to cover the Uihleins views on cannabis and the fact that many marijuana-based companies are still using them as a shipping vendor. The article ends by proudly announcing that, “The Evergreen Market will be taking its business elsewhere. Specifically to West Coast Paper Solutions, who are local, quick and price competitive.”
But have any other companies followed suit in the year since that article ran? To try and answer that, I reached out to several California-based companies.
I worked at Harborside’s San Jose and Oakland stores for over five years, just leaving that position last April. When I left my job there, they were still buying some materials from ULine. I reached out to Dani Walton, the wholesale and distribution manager at Harborside, to confirm if they still used them or if they had moved on. Walton said they, “rarely use ULine these days and order from other companies like Office Depot and Amazon.”
Longtime activist and the Executive Director of Magnolia Oakland, Debby Goldsberry, confirmed that they are no longer using ULine.
“We used them only until discovering the info about their drug warrior efforts,” Goldsberry said. “Never again! I prefer Give Something Back.”
Erik Smollin, founder of Stuff Stoners Like, said he currently uses ULine, but after learning about their politics, wants to find someone new.
“I use ULine mailing tubes a couple times a week to send out our Periodic Table of Stuff Stoners Like posters,” Smolin said. “After hearing about their anti-cannabis politics and their super conservative agenda, I will definitely be changing suppliers.”
While the #BoycottULine movement has been slow to catch on in the cannabis space, musician, record labels, and other businesses have been shunning ULine since 2016 and earlier.
The Battle For Congress
After Citizens United, money means more than it ever did before when it comes to getting elected, or wrecking an otherwise successful opposition campaign.
Now that primary elections across the country are wrapping up, and the focus has begun to shift to November’s general election, we can expect to see the big money donors coming forward and raining political donations onto the anointed few they have selected to ascend to Congress. It won’t be easy for them, as 2018 has already proven to be a populist year, as seen by the primary victory of the pro-cannabis and anti-ICE Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Democratic establishment favorite Representative Joe Crowley, who outspent her nearly 18-1.
That upset victory, and others like it, will have the money people scared, and this year may see some of the most expensive campaigns ever, as incumbents struggle to keep their seats amidst a populist uprising. If cannabis companies want to take a stand against oppressive politics that want to keep their industry down, they can put their money where their mouth is and #BoycottULine.
TELL US, does your company use ULine?