The Alcohol Industry is Funding Anti-Marijuana Efforts
Like Big Pharma, Big Booze fears competition
Earlier this month, I wrote about how Insys Therapeutics, a drug company that sells only fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly opioid, has been fighting marijuana legalization efforts in Arizona. Well, it’s not just the pharmaceutical industry that is bankrolling anti-marijuana campaigns; the alcohol industry is in on it, too.
Insys donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an anti-legalization organization. As it turns out, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association also gave $10,000 to the group.
However, Arizona isn’t the only state where the alcohol industry is trying to stop marijuana from becoming legalized. The Massachusetts-based Beer Distributors PAC contributed $25,000 to Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, another anti-legalization group. In fact, the PAC is one of the campaign’s top three donors, and represents 16 of the state’s beer distributors. 
On top of that, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also revealed that major alcohol companies have told their investors that marijuana legalization poses a “threat” to the industry.
One of those companies is the Brown-Forman Company, which makes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Finlandia Vodka. CEO Paul Varga told investors he wasn’t “losing sleep over the legalization of marijuana. But I’m paying attention to it.”
The company warned in a 10-K filing that:
“[C]onsumer preferences and purchases may shift due to a host of factors, many of which are difficult to predict, including … the potential legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis within the United States, and changes in travel, leisure, dining, gifting, entertaining, and beverage consumption trends.” 
Another group, Boston Beer Company, the fine folks who make Sam Adams, are also concerned about marijuana legalization. In a 10-K filing of its own, the company told investors that laws allowing the “sale and distribution of marijuana” could “adversely impact the demand” for beer.
There are differing opinions on how decriminalization might impact the alcohol industry. According to Daniel Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado, Denver, individuals will swap alcohol for marijuana when given the opportunity.
However, in Colorado, beer and alcohol sales have increased since cannabis was legalized in the state in 2012. 
Finally, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors donated $10,000 to the Public Safety First lobbying committee. Both the Sierra Nevada and Stone Brewing Company said they were against the group’s donation. 
Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, making alcohol the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
As of 2014, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Unless I missed it in the news, the number remains at 0.
And consider this: For years, marijuana was implicated as the gateway drug that led people to abuse harder substances, but not anymore. It was revealed in early 2016 that the first drug that the majority of high school seniors try is alcohol. And, as the Washington Post reported, alcohol is “also the first substance most commonly used in the progression of substance use.”
 The Influence
 The Intercept
 Business Insider
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.