The alcohol industry seems to be getting nervous about the spread of marijuana legalization across the country and has decided to bite back. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) has decided to spend its resources targeting politicians and encouraging them to be aware of the dangers of people driving while high. There have been many studies that show that driving while high creates a low to moderate risk. Driving under the influence of alcohol on the under hand creates a very high risk so it’s a bizarre angle to take. The alcohol industry has had a monopoly on the recreational substance market and the arrival of recreational marijuana must be quite unsettling.
The WSWA’s Advertisement
In the infamous WikiLeaks DNC email exposure, in amongst the many emails, a blogger for Marijuana.com, Tom Angell, discovered more than just the DNC conspiracy against Bernie Sanders and his religion. He discovered that the WSWA took out an ad in the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle which is a daily e-newsletter produced by the Politico website and sent to an elite group of Capital Hill insiders. In the private email edition of this newsletter, the WSWA drafted the following advertisement:
“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… 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.”
Driving While High Not the Only Factor to Consider
What this email fails to mention is that the increase in car-related fatalities in Colorado for 2012 is consistent to the national average. Oil prices were lower and more people were on the roads so the national average was higher, regardless of whether a state had legal marijuana or not. In 2011, studies show that there was a reduction in car related fatalities in states that had legalized marijuana. This is most likely the case, because it is safer to be driving while high than driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project seems more concerned about the alcohol industry, focusing on dealing with their own issues regarding safe driving. He told Marijuana.com; “Given that driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal and that the existing research shows marijuana’s effect on driving ability is significantly less than alcohol, it is difficult to see a legitimate reason for the alcohol industry to be taking up this issue. They would do better to fund research on how to decrease drunk driving.”
Some panic and resistance is to be expected from the alcohol industry, feeling that their turf is being stepped on. No amount of advertising or misleading information is likely to deter the country’s gradual but steady move towards legalization.