by David Downs
The California Beer & Beverage Distributors disclosed it donated $10,000 to defeat Prop 19 — which would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. The alcohol lobbyist's funds will help spread the lie that employers must tolerate stoned employees, and the talking point that 'California doesn't need another legal, mind-altering substance.' Alcohol causes an estimated $38 billion in costs in California each year from emergency room visits, arrests, etc, according to the Marin Institute. There are roughly 3,500 deaths annually from alcohol-related illness and more than 109,000 alcohol-related injuries in California. Conversely, pot caused 181 emergency room visits in 2008, according to a study by the non-partisan RAND Corporation, despite being used by more than four million Californians monthly.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition spokesperson and retired Orange County, CA. judge James Gray said the booze lobby's decision was probably financial. The move echoes the tobacco and alcohol industry's help creating leading drug war group Partnership For a Drug-Free America.
“It was a really wise thing to do from a merchandising standpoint to reaffirm the distinction between a legal and an illegal drug,” he said. “They are protecting their own economic self interest.”
Prop 19 would deal a major blow to drug cartels (who get 60 percent of their funding from pot) and others profiting from the drug war. Alcohol companies purvey an addictive product that can kill alcoholics who are trying to quit. Conversely, side effects from quitting pot include irritability.
“[Prop 19] passing would be a day of mourning for the criminal class and others who profit off prohibition that hasn't worked and creates more damage than the drug itself ever could,” Gray said.
LEAP's comments came amid a news conference today reiterating their group's support for Prop 19, and lamenting the press' ability to fact check anti-19 propaganda. LEAP released a letter endorsing Prop 19 signed by dozens of California law enforcement, many retired.
Lobbyists for police chiefs and narcotics officers have come out against the measure. LEAP says actual police chiefs and beat cops want change, but are afraid to speak out.
“I won't say they're cowards,” said retired San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara who has a Stanford Ph.D. in public administration. “They have political and ethical considerations that prevent them from speaking out.”
McNamara said he has hosted multiple conferences with police chiefs who say they can only endorse Prop 19 in private.
“They said, 'We have a very political job. I have to respond to the chief , the mayor, the local editorial board. I can't tell the truth. I need political cover'.”