WikiLeaks: Alcohol Industry Encourages Congressional Concern About Cannabis

booze versus marijuana, alcohol and cannabis

Is the alcohol industry is spending money to get members of Congress to pay attention to the problem of “marijuana-impaired driving”? That’s the case being made on cannabis industry website, where a blogger seems to have assiduously searched the famous WikiLeaks dump of DNC e-mails for any reference to our favorite herb.

What the blogger found was in the May 24, 2016 edition of Huddle, a daily e-newsletter for Capitol Hill insiders produced by the Politico website. That issue included a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), which reads in part:

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.

Apart from appearing on the WikiLeaks website, that particular issue of Huddle—with the WSWA statement—appears on InboxCart, a website that archives e-newsletters. Interestingly, the WSWA statement does not appear with the text of that issue in the Huddle archive on Politico. It seems to have only appeared in the e-mailed version. Also only in the e-mailed version is the following text before the main subject line: “POLITICO Huddle, presented by Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.”

In other words, the WSWA advertisement and sponsorship credit seem to have only appeared in the version sent directly to the in-boxes of Congress members and Beltway insiders.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law by President Obama in December, authorizes $305 billion over the next five years for highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation and related items, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Section 4008 does in fact address “marijuana-impaired driving,” calling for the Department of Transportation to study the question.

The daily carnage on our roads and highways is indeed a critical issue. In 2015, the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose to 38,300, according to the National Safety Council—after years of declining due to high oil prices and the recession (which meant fewer motorists on the roads).

But the question of “marijuana-impaired driving” is widely misunderstood.

For instance, it is true that Colorado has seen an increase in road fatalities since legalization n 2012, as well as an increase in cannabis-related driving offenses. But the increase in fatalities is consistent with the national trend, and probably related to low oil prices. The WSWA statement didn’t mention (of course) that a 2011 study found a reduction in traffic fatalities in states that had legalized medical marijuana.. This is likely because folks have been turning to legal cannabis instead of alcohol—which impairs driving far more dramatically than pot.

For all the latest news on marijuana legalization, click here.

  1. Of course the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America would say this. They know legalization of marijuana would cut into there profits! As for driving while impaired that is why police officers give roadside tests. (physical tests like touch your nose and stand on one foot ect. ) With so many prescription drugs and alcohol people could be effected but a great number of things. the DUI argument is just a tool to keep marijuana illegal. The simple fact is irresponsible people will be that regardless of the legalities.

  2. Also, what’s not mentioned is marijuana shows up in the test for up to 30 days, while users are only impaired for two to three hours.
    Marijuana prohibitionists don’t like to mention this. Rember it’s not what they say that’s important,it’s what they don’t say.

    1. Absolutely. There’s no evidence of intoxication or abuse. They did the same study here in NZ. 85% of all subjects who tested positive for cannabis were drunk.

  3. I’d say this is an easy study and relatively cost free. Match shot for toke with test subjects and then drive. Those who drive off the road, run into each other, and proclaim they are Mario Andretti most likely will be with the alcohol test group. Those who stopped to get a snack, admire the roadside scenic views, and finish the course last while getting to the the destination in one piece without harming others will be the cannabis control group.

  4. THC, an alkaloid, the principle psychoactive ingredient in pot, acts as a catalytic enzyme in that it elevates the sub-conscious mind to the conscious level, resulting in increased interaction of the conscious with the sub-conscious while awake.
    A high feeling, a dream like state found in natural sleep, is the result of this interaction / elevation, according to the potency of the THC involved, and a more acute awareness of sound, and other senses are common, along with short term memory retention in some cases.
    Sleep usually follows ingestion as the effect wears off, and more and more THC is not required to obtain the effect as with opioids, or alcohol.
    Moderate use should not be considered harmful, to the adult, and helps many medical conditions, as well known.
    As with everything, some can’t tolerate the effect, but most can. If used as a learning aid, it is found that concentration on a desired subject can be enhanced.
    Most humans just ingest it for recreational purposes, and don’t realize the increased learning aspect thru sense enhancement.
    When used with a learning device, such as a Neurophone, that transmits ultrasound directly to the brain, bypassing the ears, the learning effect is even more pronounced, and hearing from the inside out, instead of the normal outside in is a very pleasant sensation, as it opens up another channel, or sense to the brain.
    I have used this combination for years, with no side effects, except the munchies, that everyone seems to enjoy.
    Legalization, for adults, and using the revenue for tax purposes ONLY to balance the Nat’l budget should be considered a priority in this election year in my opinion.

  5. The new prohibitionist talking-point, that there has been an “increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana” is a mischaracterization of a study conducted by AAA that showed per-se cannabis DUI laws are unscientific and should be changed.

    It’s indeed true: the number of road fatalities testing positive for cannabis using these per-se limits has doubled — from 8% to 17%. However, despite what prohibitionists are trying to imply, road fatalities have dropped, significantly. That was the point of the AAA study and the basis of their conclusion: despite the increase in people testing positive, the number of fatalities has been decreasing. One does not predict the other. This is consistent with another study conducted by Anderson and Rees which showed medical cannabis states see an average drop in DUI and DUI fatalities by 9%.

    Washington state, for example, has averaged 511 traffic fatalities per year over the last ten years. But look at the data. This is from the FARS Encyclopedia about traffic fatalities in Washington State by year:
    2005: 649 fatalities
    2006: 633 fatalities
    2007: 571 fatalities
    2008: 521 fatalities
    2009: 492 fatalities
    2010: 460 fatalities
    2011: 454 fatalities
    2012: 438 fatalities
    2013: 436 fatalities
    2014: 462 fatalities

    Despite the “increase” in fatalities testing positive for THC under per-se limits, overall road fatalities are trending DOWNWARD. Since 2012, Washington state has experienced 10-15% fewer road fatalities than the ten-year average. The fact of the matter is that the roads have become SAFER since we started to regulate cannabis. This newest talking point stinks of the worst type of intellectual dishonesty. I’m not the least bit surprised the alcohol industry would peddle these disingenuous half-truths to protect their market-share.

  6. I’m more surprised there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit against alcohol producers similar to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. I’m sure millions more are affected by alcohol and the cost of medical treatments is greater than what tobacco has caused.

  7. Surprise surprize, the alcohol industry the killer of many and destroyer of countless families trying to put a cap on its competition. Der da da der

  8. Just so you are aware, you have a typo in this article, an extra ‘is.’ For the love of God, fix it.

    1. Thank you frugal glug. I didn’t want to come across as an editorial nazi (but I’m a journalist who’s proud of my trade). BTW- there’s also an extra right parentheses ->) The veracity of the article takes a hit when typos are published by a pub as big as HT. This got past the writer and editors. No offense, it makes you all look like you’re high (which I have no problem with, except that your global influence reaches many and multiple typos reinforce lazy stereotypes). I hate to go on about this because the stories are good. But I’ve seen typos in the 3 HT articles I’ve read today which honestly makes me not want to read any further. If you ever need a good editor- shoot me an email.

  9. Just need to follow the money. Who is against legalization ? Big pharma will lose money because pot will replace several of their over-priced medications. The alcohol industry stands to lose money, as shown on Colorado and other states where pot is legal. Police unions are against it because they stand to lose money in civil forfeitures. The private prison corporations will lose big if pot becomes legal. The inmate population will drop dramatically. And of course the FDA wants to keep it a schedule 1 drug, because it is owned by the Pharmaceutical corporations.

  10. Of course the alcohol companies don’t like pot. every state where Marijuana has been legalized the use of alcohol goes down. It’s a way better high. Not a sloppy high like alcohol is.

  11. Alcohol as anyone who remembers their youth can attest, Is the real gateway drug that kids start on.
    Alcohol creates more grief in the world than all the other intoxicants combined.

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