• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 16, 2010

    California campaign finance reports disclose that The California Beer & Beverage Distributors Association is one of the primary financial backers of Public Safety First, sponsors of the ‘No on Prop. 19’ campaign.

    Booze Lobby Funding the No on 19 Campaign
    via The East Bay Express

    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.”

    The alcohol lobby’s $10,000 donation to the ‘No on Prop. 19’ campaign is one of the largest monetary donations received by Public Safety First, third only to the $30,000 donated by the California Police Chief’s Association and the $20,500 donated by the California Narcotics Officers Association. (Want to ask PSF campaign manager Tim Rosales why an organization called Public Safety First accepts funding from the pushers of a product that is responsible for immeasurable public safety costs? You can do so by going here.) Last month, the East Bay Express reported total financial contributions to the Prop. 19 campaign were well ahead of those reported for Public Safety First, which at that time had only raised $61,000, with just one citizen donor.

    Of course, this isn’t the first time that the The California Beer & Beverage Distributors have targeted their alcohol profits to oppose drug law reform in the Golden State. In 2008, the booze lobby donated a much larger amount — $100,000 in fact — to defeat Prop. 5, The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, which among other things would have reduced criminal marijuana possession penalties from a misdemeanor to a non-criminal infraction. (The measure failed 40 percent to 60 percent.) Could it be that the alcohol lobby is fearful of the day when they will have to legally compete with a natural product that is remarkably safe, non-toxic, and won’t leave you with a hangover? Do we even have to ask?

    I’ll give the final word to DrugWarRant blogger extraordinaire Pete Guither who says it best, “If you’re opposed to Prop 19, you’re on the side of the narcs, the cartels, the sheriffs, and the booze industry.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 20, 2008

    Below is this week’s summary of pending state legislation and tips to help you become involved in changing the laws in your state.

    California: A statewide sentencing reform measure, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA), has qualified to appear on the November 2008 ballot. If enacted, the proposal would amend the penalty for marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction — similar to a traffic ticket. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, which is backing the measure, “This single change will protect some 40,000 people a year convicted of simple marijuana possession from the serious and life-long collateral consequences of a criminal record.” You can learn more about NORA by clicking here.

    California: Via: California NORML — Senate Resolution SJR 20, which seeks to halt federal law enforcement from prosecuting state-sanctioned medical cannabis patients and dispensaries, is expected to be voted on by the full Senate imminently. Californians may contact their state Senator via NORML’s online advocacy system here.

    New York: The state Assembly passed legislation this week, A 4867B, which seeks to allow qualified patients to grow and possess medical cannabis under a doctor’s supervision. The proposal is now before the Senate Rules Committee which, unfortunately, has only hours to act on the bill before the legislature adjourns for the year. For further information on how you can become involved in this effort, please click here.

    Florida: Governor Charlie Crist signed legislation into law this week enhancing criminal penalties for marijuana cultivation. As enacted, House Bill 173 (The Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act), allows judges to sentence those who cultivate more than 25 plants in their home to up to 15 years in jail (or up to 30 years in jail if a child is present.) NORML podcaster Russ Belville examines the obvious futility and unintended consequences of this new law here