Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

September 15, 2010
Beer lobby opposition drives pot initiative proponents to drink

Marijuana legalization advocates like to argue that pot is safer than booze and California will be better off with legal weed.

So when the California Beer and Beverage Distributors trade association donated $10,000 to the campaign to defeat Proposition 19, California's November ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use, pot advocates pounced.

"Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition," said Steve Fox, director of governmental relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, a group seeking alternatives to the war on drugs.

Fox is a co-author of a pro-marijuana legalization book entitled "Marijuana is safer: So why are we driving people to drink?"

He borrowed from the title to criticize the beer distributors for opposing Proposition 19.

"They know that marijuana is less addictive, less toxic and less likely to be associated with violent behavior," Fox charged. "So they don't want adults to have the option of using marijuana legally instead of alcohol. Their mission is to drive people to drink."

But Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the No on 19 campaign, argued that the beer distributors don't want people toking and driving.

"The average California beer wholesaler has a fleet of 85 delivery trucks plus long haul trailers, vans and sales cars to bring their product to market," Salazar said. "I would think they would no more support allowing their drivers to drink beer before getting behind the wheel of their trucks or vans, than they would want them smoking marijuana."

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