Cannabis prohibition is kept alive by three major industries with massive amounts of lobbying power: private prisons, the pharmaceutical industry and the beer and alcohol industry.
The beer and alcohol industry has greatly suffered from prohibition in its history. In 2010, California Beer and Beverage Distributors funneled $10,000 into a political action committee (PAC) that was in opposition to California’s Prop 19, which would have legalized marijuana in 2010 if passed. And now, since marijuana has been legalized in several states across the country, there is concern that cannabis will become a substitute for alcohol—thereby leading to a decrease in sales and consumption.
Here are three of the major reasons why alcohol companies like the California Beer and Beverage Distributors might want to keep cannabis underground.
Although marijuana and alcohol have existed in the same arena for decades without interference, there is concern that alcohol consumption could decline if marijuana was legalized and marketed.
The stigma surrounding cannabis has kept many people from trying it—despite the fact that it is less harmful than alcohol. In addition, accessing cannabis in states where it has yet to be legalized can lead to a bad product experience, proliferating this negative stigma.
With a system similar to alcohol, however, these barriers wouldn’t exist. This might lead to customers making the choice to smoke more than drink, which is a huge threat to the beer and alcohol business.
2. Flexible Frameworks
Alcohol has to play by many rules and regulations that could put them at a disadvantage comparatively to marijuana, which if legalized would enter the world as a brand-new industry with modern framework that learns from and improves upon alcohol policy.
One of the reasons the California Beer and Beverage Distributors wanted to see Prop 19 fail was because they did not believe that cannabis had an adequate regulatory structure. Of course, it is hard to have an organizational structure for an illegal industry. However, the best regulatory structure for the cannabis industry to follow is the alcohol industry’s. The only valid point within the California Beer and Beverage Distributor’s argument was that state regulations would differ from the federal regulations that alcohol companies must follow, creating confusion and inconsistencies.
According to a new study, cannabis has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol on an individual level. Numbers like these, of course, stem from the fact that cannabis has never killed a single person while alcohol kills approximately 37,000 Americans each year. Regardless of how marijuana is consumed (by vaporization, smoke or edibles) the adverse effects on the body are minimal when compared to alcohol, making cannabis the much healthier option to a spotted liver.
Only time will tell how the beer and alcohol industry’s profit margins will be impacted. All we can hope is that research will continue to shed light on the positive effects of marijuana to keep this countrywide support rolling.
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