Surprise, Surprise: Big Alcohol Working Against Marijuana

Emails from Wikileaks prove that the alcohol industry is leading the charge to enact regulations for medical marijuana

The alcohol industry sees the rise of marijuana as a threat to its very existence.

It’s only natural that the alcohol business is dead-set against the legalization of marijuana; for Big Booze, America is one of those Wild West towns that’s only got room for one legal vice, and they’re doing their utmost to make sure that it continues to be alcohol. But new emails from WikiLeaks show just how deeply the alcohol industry is involved in the regulation of marijuana.

Tom Angell, chairman of the national cannabis reform group Marijuana Majority, found in the DNC’s leaked emails a massive marketing campaign by the alcohol industry to pressure federal lawmakers to create legislation fighting driving while under the influence of marijuana.

The paid advertisement, which ran in the industry insider newsletter POLITICO Huddle, was funded by Wine & Sprits Wholesalers of America, whose mission is to protect the interests of the wine and spirits industry. The advertisement focused on Colorado’s increase in traffic fatalities since the legalization of marijuana before asking Congress to fund research into cannabis impairment testing methods and methods to differentiate alcohol- and marijuana-impaired driving.

The WSWA also ran an hour-long panel on marijuana at its 72nd annual convention. For a wine and spirits group, it has devoted considerable time and money, both on its website and in other spaces, to fighting the legalization of marijuana—despite the fact that studies show drinkers are unlikely to swap booze for weed if it is legalized.


Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project highlighted the hypocrisy of the situation: “Given that driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal and that the existing research shows marijuana’s effect on driving ability is significantly less than alcohol, it is difficult to see a legitimate reason for the alcohol industry to be taking up this issue. They would do better to fund research on how to decrease drunk driving.”