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Big Alcohol Fueling Opposition to California Marijuana Initiative

According to a recently filed campaign finance report, the campaign to defeat a marijuana legalization initiative in California is receiving substantial funding from the alcohol industry. Now marijuana advocates are fighting back, calling on the opposition campaign to explain why it is working with Big Alcohol to keep marijuana illegal. On September 7th, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors contributed $10,000 to the No on Prop. 19 campaign, which calls itself “Public Safety First.” Proposition 19 would establish a legally regulated marijuana market in which marijuana is controlled and taxed in a fashion similar to alcohol. It’s clear why the alcohol industry is in this fight — to protect its turf and keep Californians drinking. This is the same California Beer and Beverage Distributors gave $100,000 to oppose Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), which would have reduced marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. With marijuana being the second most popular recreational substance (despite its prohibition), the booze industry must recognize the threat legal marijuana poses to its bottom line. Thus, it has a vast financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal and steering Californians away from using it. But why does the No on Prop. 19 campaign share Big Alcohol’s goal of an alcohol-only society? It seems odd that a group that purports to be committed to enhancing public safety wants to ensure Californians can only drink and cannot use marijuana as a safer recreational alternative. After all, every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far safer than alcohol to the user and society. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use alone contributes to more than 35,000 deaths each year — including several hundred from overdoses — whereas marijuana use does not contribute to any deaths and has never resulted in a fatal overdose in history. Also, whereas alcohol is a major contributing factor in domestic violence, sexual assaults, fights, and other violent crimes, marijuana has never been found to contribute to such problems. 2010-09-16-BigAlc.jpgIn light of “Public Safety First’s” decision to team up with the alcohol industry to ensure the booze keeps flowing and the pot does not, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the organization I run, called on No on Prop. 19 Campaign Manager Tim Rosales to explain the campaign’s desire to ensure alcohol is the only legal intoxicant available for adults. Mr. Rosales has yet to respond to the upwards of 1,000 e-mails he has received from Prop. 19 supporters throughout California and across the nation. So I’ll ask him again here: Mr. Rosales, if you and your campaign are so concerned about public safety, why do you want to continue driving Californians to drink, and why on earth wouldn’t you want adults to be able to make the rational choice to use a far less harmful substance? Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath as I await his response… I’ll just be at the bar drinking my worries away until the day I can legally make the safer choice to use marijuana instead. Mason Tvert co-authored the book, Marijuana is Safer, So Why are we Driving People to Drink?


NYC Activists Call for a Safer St. Patrick’s Day

Over the past several years, SAFER has used the alcohol-fueled mayhem surrounding St. Patrick’s Day to highlight the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. Click HERE and HERE to see news stories about them. This year, a group of activists in New York City are carrying the torch by calling on the city to […] Read More..

Women Speak Out for Marijuana Legalization in California, Nationwide

Women throughout California and across the nation held news conferences Tuesday to speak out in support of Proposition 19, the California ballot measure that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.In California, they stressed the importance of getting out to vote for Prop. 19, and how its passage would enhance the safety of their families and […] Read More..

Big Alcohol’s Anti-Marijuana Spokesman on the Hill

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) took to the airwaves Tuesday to decry increases in marijuana use amongst the American public and call for a ramping up of marijuana enforcement nationwide.At first glance, some might think Smith is genuinely concerned about marijuana use and its impact on public safety. Yet it’s hard to take him at his […] Read More..

RN Cites Relative Safety of Marijuana in Defense of California Legalization Measure

A great column from registered nurse Lanny Swerdlow appeared in today’s edition of the Palm Springs newspaper, The Desert Sun.  In it, Swerdlow highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and suggests California would be a safer and healthier state if Proposition 19 — the measure to control and tax cannabis — is […] Read More..

College Students Nationwide: Allow Marijuana as a Safer Alternative to Alcohol

Colleges themselves, organizers say, unwittingly encourage drinking by enforcing zero-tolerance policies against students who are caught smoking marijuana. Read More..