According to recently exposed information by WikiLeaks, the alcohol industry may have been bribing officials and leading smear campaigns to keep cannabis in the dark.
Just recently, Marijuana.com, a cannabis industry website searched through leaked DNC emails to see if any mentioned the plant. They found a May 24, 2016, edition of Huddle, a daily e-newsletter for Capitol Hill insiders produced by the Politico website (9).
The issue reportedly included an advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) that reads:
“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… 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.”
The advertisement appeared not only on the WikiLeaks website but also in InboxCart, a website that archives e-newsletters. This advertisement was viewed by Congress members and political insiders (10).
New Cannabis Legislation
As it stands, the American government is set to conduct a year-long investigation on marijuana consumption and driving. As a result, they will issue a cannabis “impairment standard as a part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act signed by Obama in December (11,12).
WSWA said the following about the legislation:
“There is currently no scientific consensus regarding the level at which marijuana consumption impairs a driver and no effective way to measure this impairment in the field. This is problematic for law enforcement who, in contrast, can quickly and effectively establish a scientifically and legally-supported measure of alcohol impairment.” (13)
What Does the Liquor Industry Have to Lose?
Similarly to the Pharmaceutical industry, liquor manufacturers have a lot to lose from marijuana legalization. It’s possible that habitual drinkers may turn away from the bottle to move to the much safer herb. This could translate into a large loss of profits for the alcohol industry.
The alcohol industry has a long history of suppressing cannabis use and legalization.
Morgan Fox, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, has this to say on the subject:
“No one should be driving while impaired by marijuana, and we should certainly be doing more research into all aspects of the substance, including its impact on driving. However, 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.”
Without a doubt, the Government should be implicated in creating new laws to protect Americans, but “marijuana-impaired driving” isn’t fully understood. Statistics on marijuana-related deaths and accidents also need to take into account other factors such as national trends to get a truer image of the situation.
While WSWA is very vocal in its fears of driving under the influence of marijuana, it isn’t really warranted. In fact, a 2011 study found that states that have legalized medical marijuana have also experienced a reduction in traffic fatalities (14).