Last month, WikiLeaks notoriously released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee. The dump and consequential revelations sent the DNC into a tailspin but it looks like Bernie Sanders wasn’t the only one in the crony crosshairs. After a little more digging, there’s rather staggering evidence illustrating direct involvement of Big Alcohol lobbying for greater Congressional marijuana regulation.
The smoking gun appears in several daily e-newsletters sent to Capitol Hill insiders. These newsletters included paid advertisements from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) warning against the myriad dangers of marijuana.
In one of the newsletters, the WSWA advertisement states:
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.
Twenty-three 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.
WSWA isn’t some small-time, market distributor looking to curb marijuana sales on a district-by-district basis. WSWA is one of the largest wholesale distributors in the country. With 362 member companies in 50 states, WSWA accounts for more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the US.
This isn’t the first time Big Alcohol has looked to curb growth or demand regulation in this “budding” new frontier. Recently, a trade group representing various alcohol wholesalers, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Association, contributed $10,000 to an effort to defeat marijuana legalization in the Grand Canyon State.
This should really come as no surprise. With more and more states looking to get in on that legalization tax money, the alcohol industry is looking to hedge its bets on a future that remains “hazy” at best.
No matter the company’s self-admitted “neutral” stance on legalization, the organization appears to stay extremely concerned about marijuana encroaching upon their slice of the recreational pie.
Last year at WSWA hosted an exposition called “Everything You Need to Know About Marijuana.” A conference aimed looking to determine just “how marijuana legalization could impact another socially sensitive product: beverage alcohol.”
WSWA’s website further reiterates an altruistic, sickeningly holier than thou tone.
“While WSWA does not have a position on the core question of marijuana legalization, we do have deep expertise in the structure, management and operational challenges,” notes an article on WSWA’s website. “Accordingly, WSWA stands ready to serve as a resource for states in explaining the merits of the three tier system as a systematic and effective regulatory framework.”
Surely the WSWA isn’t talking about a framework in which their beloved booze product accounts for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States? A framework that is responsible for the death of 209 child-related traffic fatalities in 2014, alone. A framework that accounts for a deadly car accident every 53 minutes at an annual cost of more than 44 billion dollars…
No, surely not that one.
WikiLeaks claims it has more emails it plans to divulge in the near future. Could there be even more damning information about the alcohol industry wooing Congress for the sake of the greater good?
Regardless, with another nine states putting various levels of marijuana legalization on the ballot this coming Election Day, it just looks like Big Alcohol is grasping at… sticks and stems.
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