Long Story Short
Many people familiar with the cannabis legalization movement have suspected that the alcohol industry could be fighting to keep marijuana illegal. And now, thanks to new documents published by Wikileaks, it seems that theory could be true.
Wikileaks made international headlines recently when it leaked a bunch of sensitive emails about the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Those emails showed that the DNC skewed the campaign for Hillary Clinton.
But buried in the documents was another interesting email. This one has to do with the cannabis legalization debate.
The document in question was some paid content that was included as part of a daily political newsletter. The content was paid for by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).
According to its website, the WSWA is a nationwide trade association of wine and liquor sellers. It’s focused on protecting the financial interests of the alcohol industry.
And apparently that includes running a scare campaign against cannabis. The group’s messaging to lawmakers played up the classic fear that legal cannabis will create more dangerous drivers and more traffic deaths. Here’s what the Wikileaks document said:
“A message from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America: 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.”
“23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. 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.”
But the alcohol industry’s fight against cannabis goes even further. Earlier this year, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Association gave $10,000 to a group fighting legalization in Arizona.
The Impaired Drivers Myth
The biggest problem with the alcohol industry’s focus on the dangers of stoned drivers is that it’s not backed up by actual research. A handful of studies has found that stoned drivers aren’t that big of a threat.
- At the end of 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a report that said: “consuming marijuana does not elevate the crash risk of the driver.”
- Back in April, a couple of researchers looked into the claim that cannabis leads to more traffic accidents. They found that those claims were grossly over exaggerated. They also said that many of the studies making that claim used faulty testing methods.
All this is interesting, especially if you’re in the pro-cannabis camp. But this is even more important. It looks like the alcohol industry is covering up the most damning statistic of all: Alcohol is far more dangerous than cannabis.
A recent study concluded that alcohol is 114 times more dangerous than cannabis. And stats from the NHTSA show that drunk driving is responsible for 31% of all traffic deaths.
The Final Hit
From the looks of things, the alcohol industry is very uncomfortable with the prospects of legal cannabis. Apparently, they’re concerned that people will choose weed over booze. But so far, alcohol is itself way more dangerous than marijuana.