California proposition 19 — to decriminalize and tax marijuana — is being opposed by an organization called “Public Safety First”. But it seems ironic that an organization whose very name implies that they want to promote public safety, has received a rather large donation from the California Beer and Beverage Distributors.
Why would the alcohol industry want to keep marijuana illegal? I can only guess. After all, the group making the contribution includes Heineken, who would know from first hand experience in Amsterdam how legalization of marijuana might influence alcohol consumption.
The only reason we know this is because in California, such donations must be public. In fact, you can see the donation at this website. Isn’t it a shame that Republicans managed to block a bill (by threatening a filibuster) that would have required public disclosure of political spending by corporations?
This example highlights the problems of treating corporate money as protected speech. I’m absolutely sure that Beer and Beverage Distributors don’t care whether marijuana should be legal or about any public safety issues at all. They only care about protecting their business. Not only does this result in the best laws money can buy, but it destroys the free market. In effect, the alcohol industry is using the government to prevent free enterprise.
And any conservative who claims to hate government regulation, but supports laws that make marijuana illegal — certainly the ultimate regulation — is a complete hypocrite.