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Beer vs. Weed: Alcohol industry lobbies against legalizing pot

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Beer drinkers and pot smokers aren’t considered rivals, but their corporate entities are. The alcohol lobby, afraid of losing market share, is funding the fight against pot legalization.

There are five states that will vote on pot legalization in 2016: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. In nearly every state, PACs funded by the alcohol, beer, and wine industries are fighting against legal weed, The Intercept reported.

The Beer Distributors PAC, which has connections to 16 major beer distribution companies in the Bay State, gave $25,000 to the “Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts,” an anti-pot legalization organization.

Big Wine is also fighting against pot legalization. The Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association donated $10,000 to oppose Proposition 205, which legalizes recreational marijuana.

The same was true when California attempted to legalize pot back in 2010; alcohol distribution groups donated money to defeat the effort.

Craft breweries are the only groups that support legalization efforts. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since Big Beer spent decades lobbying state governments to over-regulate the market and make it impossible for smaller IPAs to compete. Since the market expanded in 2011, the number of small breweries has more than doubled.

Liquor, wine, and beer companies are afraid that pot will cause a decline in sales and negatively affect their bottom line.

The Boston Beer Company (makers of Sam Adams) and the Brown-Forman Company (produces Jack Daniel’s) both told investors in their 10-K filing that laws that allow the sale and distribution of pot will “adversely impact the demand” for beer and liquor.

This opinion has few facts to back it up. Since Colorado legalized pot in 2012, liquor sales have increased about $42 million.

Opposition from these groups has less to do with health and safety concerns and more to do with Big Alcohol’s love of crony capitalism.

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