People enjoy things that help them relax. Some people do yoga, some people drink alcohol, and some smoke weed. The latter is increasing in popularity now that it’s legal to buy and sell recreational marijuana in four states, with five more states looking to join them in 2016. Some members of big alcohol companies, though, are doing the best they can to keep fresh herb out of people’s hands.
Why can’t we all just get along?
A Massachusetts campaign financing report dug up by The Intercept shows that the Beer Distributors PAC gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, and anti-pot lobbying organizations. The PAC represents 16 distribution companies in the state and its donation was the third largest for the anti-marijuana campaign.
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The Beer Distributor PAC is scared of marijuana. Its fear rests on the idea that people would swap beer bottles for bongs, which was supported by a University of Colorado Denver study that found legal medical marijuana leads to decreased alcohol consumption, especially in the case of beer.
But in reality, market data shows people are more likely to ask “why choose?” than stick to only one inebriant. Colorado is the perfect case study that shows this (also because, let’s be honest, who hasn’t made a “mile-high” joke about Denver yet?). Colorado already had a thriving craft brewing culture before it legalized weed in 2012. Since the time weed started being sold in 2014, the media has had a frenzy over how alcohol sales in the state went up with marijuana legalization.
“There’s definitely some crossover in the two communities of beer drinkers and herb enjoyers, but I don’t think people are doubling down in one category or the other,” New Belgium spokesman Bryan Simpson told the Guardian. New Belgium is based in Colorado, and Simpson added that legal marijuana has had “no demonstrable impact at all in terms of sales.”
So what is the Beer Distributors PAC’s problem? Maybe it’s that the people behind it live and work in a state where happy hours are illegal (happy hour is a great time to hash out problems). But it isn’t alone. Plenty of alcohol companies have spoken out about legal marijuana negatively affecting sales or have donated money to anti-legalization campaigns — and they don’t have the happy hour excuse:
The Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association
The wholesale distribution company donated $10,000 to the anti-marijuana group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy in 2016. Of course, alcohol is also a drug, something that hasn’t been lost on the competing group, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA).
“Using alcohol money to fund their campaign to maintain marijuana prohibition is grossly hypocritical,” CRMLA chairman J.P. Holyoak said in a statement.
The California Beer And Beverage Distributors
Yep, yet another distribution company against marijuana legalization. The distribution group donated $10,000 to the Public Safety First lobbying committee. See a trend yet? Not all the CBBD’s members were happy about the donation, though — both Sierra Nevada and Stone Brewing Company publicly stated they were against the CBBD’s donation.
The Boston Beer Company
In 2014, Boston Beer, which makes Sam Adams, wrote that regulatory changes could harm the company in its 10-K government document filing.
“Certain states are considering or have passed changes to regulations allowing the sale and distribution of marijuana,” the statement reads. “It is possible that such changes could adversely impact the demand for the Company’s products.”
It didn’t directly support an anti-marijuana organization, but by saying marijuana could harm the business, it’s not unreasonable to say that big investors could be motivated to keep weed illegal.
The Brown-Forman Company
Brown-Forman makes Jack Daniel’s and Finlandia Vodka. Like Boston Beer, it warned investors about marijuana in a 2014 government filing. In the filing, the company warned that consumer tastes could change, in part, due to “the potential legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis within the United States.”
Four months later, though, Brown-Forman’s CEO told investors he isn’t “losing sleep over the legalization of marijuana,” the Intercept reports. “But I’m paying attention to it.”