Email Hack Reveals Big Alcohol Lobbying Against Legal Pot

Email Hack Reveals Big Alcohol Lobbying Against Legal Pot

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Somebody’s got a lot of time on their hands. When that big WikiLeaks dump of hacked Democratic National Committee emails came out last month, folks dug deep enough to embarrass the DNC and get its chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz booted from her seat. But most people didn’t dig much deeper than that. Luckily for those who read and write hard-hitting marijuana news, somebody had a little bit of extra time, and used it to expose another bit of Washinton behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

Another DNC email reveals that the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a lobbyist group that represents booze pushers, has been trying to stop Washington lawmakers from getting to friendly with the marijuana industry. As reported by Marijuana.com, a newsletter sent to DNC Finance Director Jordon Kaplan contains a paid message from the WSWA, which reads:

A message from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America: While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana.

23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana.

Congress should fully fund Section 4008 of the FAST Act (PL 114-94) in the FY 2017 Appropriations process to document the prevalence of marijuana impaired driving, outline impairment standards and determine driving impairment detection methods.

It’s odd to find that the alcohol industry is so threatened by the cannabusiness, since nothing has ever stopped consumers from buying alcohol by the can, case, and barrel, not even completely outlawing the sale of alcohol in the early twentieth century.

Some believe the WSWA’s attempts to question the safety of marijuana are transparently self-interested. While Marijuana Policy Project communications manager Morgan Fox readily admits that driving under the impairment of cannabis is unsafe, he brings up the point that “driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal and… the existing research shows marijuana’s effect on driving ability is significantly less than alcohol,” he told Marijuana.com.
“It is difficult to see a legitimate reason for the alcohol industry to be taking up this issue. They would do better to fund research on how to decrease drunk driving.”

This is not Big Alcohol’s only attempt to fight the coming tide of legal marijuana. The Arizona Wine and Spirits Association gave $10,000 to anti-marijuana efforts in that state, hoping to prevent the passing of a legalization measure on this November’s ballot.

 

Photo via Flickr user Phil Long

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