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Booze vs. Pot

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.



  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this one. And I think you raise some very interesting questions.

    Either the beer companies are ignorant, or they believe that American consumers would react and respond differently in similar circumstances to those overseas. Perhaps they believe that Americans would consider pot an alternative to drinking? Or perhaps they don’t understand the nature of what they are investing in. Which would qualify under ignorance.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 12:42 am | Permalink
  2. TJ wrote:

    You make a good point about the fallout from the Supreme Court decision. If corporate money really is protected “speech”, then shouldn’t the source of the donation be public knowledge? If it’s an anonymous donation, how is it “speech” at all? All they did was give money behind the scenes; no one “heard” what they were saying.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink
  3. ZJD wrote:

    Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of anti-drug conservatives. In their twisted reality the government has no right to tell us what to do with our money, but every right to tell us what we can and cannot put in our own bodies. As for public safety and the supposed decay of society: “The fact that people are being prosecuted and imprisoned for using marijuana, while alcohol remains a staple commodity, is surely the reductio ad absurdum of any notion that our drug laws are designed to keep people from harming themselves or others.”

    Aside from alcohol distributors, I’d be interested to learn about the pharmaceutical industry’s monetary ties to anti-legalization groups.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    My personal policy the past few years is to vote no on every state ballot initiative (Washington, in my case). There is the VERY occasional initiative that is truly a grass roots issue, but almost every single one is some business concern pushing a special interest through that they can’t achieve via the legislature. I suppose THAT way (legislature) would just be some legal form of bribery, though.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  5. patriotsgt wrote:

    The only reason the gov’t still supports alcohol and tobaco despite the obvious health threats is their value. Both are cash cows to the treasuries of the fed, states and some local gov’s.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 5:37 am | Permalink