Guess who is lobbying against marijuana legalization?

by on September 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm in Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Medicine, Political Science | Permalink

Yup, beer distributors and the police.  Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post does a very nice job on the politics:

The California Beer & Beverage Distributors is spending money in the
state to oppose a marijuana legalization proposition on the ballot in November,
according to records filed with the California Secretary of State. The beer sellers are the first
competitors of marijuana to officially enter the debate; backers of the
initiative are closely watching liquor and wine dealers and the pharmaceutical
industry to see if they enter the debate in the remaining weeks…

Public Safety First is largely funded by a different industry whose interests are threatened by the legalization of marijuana: law enforcement. Police forces are entitled to keep property seized as part of drug raids and the revenue stream that comes from waging the drug war has become a significant source of support for local law enforcement. Federal and state funding of the drug war is also a significant supplement to local forces' budgets.

Amusingly, the Teamsters and the teachers (!) are supporting legalization:

The Service Employees International Union, a major presence in California, has endorsed the proposition. The Teamsters in September made its first successful foray into organizing pot growers. The United Food and Commercial Workers is backing the initiative and organizing cannabis club employees in the Bay Area. The teachers union, citing the revenue that could be raised for the state, is also backing the initiative.

PJ September 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

The police opposing the initiative is no surprise, although I also wouldn’t be surprised if polling revealed individual police officers strongly in favor of the initiative, though the beer industry being opposed to the initiative is somewhat surprising. Do they suppose that current sales of marijuana cut into alcohol profit margins? What about prostitution? Prescription drugs?

No surprise that unions are in favor of the initiative given that they stand to lose the most in the middle of the state budget crisis.

I believe Kevin Drum made a smart post awhile back the biggest problem this initiative faces is that both moralists & bootleggers oppose it. The repeal of prohibition faced the same difficulty.

Jean September 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I concur with the compliments and not substitutes comment. Although maybe not in quantity.

liberty September 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm

No. The beer distributors are fools – they are well known to be complements.

Dan Weber September 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Since the alcohol is flammable, the liquor companies are concerned about liability issues when someone lights up a doobie while drinking a beer and ends up in flames.

Zephyrus September 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

As someone who’s probably far more in favor of unions than most anyone on this blog… am I the only one who’s disturbed by the entire Teamster-pot-growing local? A company approached the IBT, asked them to organize their workers, in order that they might have an advantage in getting a state granted monopoly on pot production.

It’s a shameless agreement to split rents, at the expense of the typical pot smoker. It’s not evident that the workers even have legal protections–if a labor-management dispute over a clearly (and unfortunately) federally-illegal line of work arose, how would the NLRB be able to react?

nice strategy September 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I just returned from a teacher’s union meeting that included someone from the state board of CTA and he clearly stated that we have NOT taken a position on prop 19.

I think the beer distributors have good reason to fear a loss at the lower end of the market. It might be a complement, not a substitute, in terms of ideal buzz management for hipsters, but for someone who only has $5-10 to spend and wants to get good and messed up, it could be a substitute.

Brian Courts September 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The notion that law enforcement should get to keep the proceeds of property confiscation or that governments should be funded in such a way ought to be seen by everyone as patently wrong and utterly abhorrent in a “free” society. I’d be interested to see how enthusiastic they are about drug law confiscations if they were required to donate all proceeds to a private, non-police related charity instead of keeping them. In fact, such should be the law.

Beyond that, the fact that law enforcement are seeking to influence the law (rather than merely enforcing the law) in a way which continues to criminalize non-violent private behavior and ruin lives as a way to protect their income streams is beyond abhorrent. They are even worse than the rent-seeking distributors mentioned above because not only do they want to be rewarded with a legally protected income for non-productive activities, they apparently have no problem destroying people’s lives to get it.

Jimmy September 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Somewhere I’d like to see a list of specific CA breweries that support the ban (Russian River?) so that I might be better able to identify and boycott them.

———

If Russian River did support the ban (which is probably unlikely), it’s a nice question for an economics blog whether the principled boycott would be worth the cost. It is doubtful their stance on this issue would effect my consumption of Pliny and all those delicious American Wild Ales!

Jamie September 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

“[The police] are even worse than the rent-seeking distributors mentioned above because not only do they want to be rewarded with a legally protected income for non-productive activities, they apparently have no problem destroying people’s lives to get it.”

My feelings, exactly. This is abhorrent, and I would support politicians that wanted to find ways to smack down cops for this sort of thing. This is manifestly *not* their place in a free society.

BKarn September 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Yeah, cops are definitely the problem in the illegal drug problem. Definitely need to spend more time obsessing over them than worrying about the absolutely devastating impact drugs (other than pot, for which I support decriminalization or legalization) and their trade have on communities. Of course, the War on Drugs is part and parcel of that madness, but the people who constantly, and I mean constantly, bleat on about this are always pissed at the cops alone. And I get it. Cops are part of the system, higher standard, what government can and cannot do to its citizens. I get it. But just once, and I mean once, I’d like to hear you guys utter so much as a peep to indicate you have any recognition whatsoever that there are problems _other than_ the cops.

Dan Klein September 24, 2010 at 5:50 am

Well, for all of the evil of SEIU, you have to chalk one up for them here.

I wonder if Fox News will acknowledge that here is the odd moment when SEIU favors something in the direction of greater liberty.

puff-pass September 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

Cannabis consumers and all right-thinking Californians:

Early voting in California begins on October 4th:

I’ll just leave this right here.

Let’s disprove the “lazy stoner” sterotype. Let’s end the hypocrisy, the criminality, the harmful Black Market. Down with Barry Obama. Up with free trade in cannabis.

Equal respect and concern for cannabis consumers!

Tyler Cowen is not a criminal!

(Just playin’, Tyler. We know you’re more down with the heroine [she's cute])

Jim September 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Why on Earth would you be surprised that the unions and teachers (!!) support marijuana legalization?

They see it as a source of income for themselves via taxation.

These people would support child sex slavery if they thought they could tax it and make a few bucks.

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They see it as a source of income for themselves via taxation.
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Gillligan February 16, 2011 at 5:51 am

Legal weed smoking will be a reality sooner or later. Pressure is accumulating fast from the general public and politicians will have to vote it or else no re-election for them… The choice is quite simple: if they want power again… vote for marijuana… if they plan on retiring vote what you want.

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