Marijuana is giving alcohol a bad name.
So contend booze lobbyists, who are getting sick of an ad campaign that makes the claim that pot is safer than their beloved beverages.
“We’re not against legalization of marijuana, we just don’t want to be vilified in the process,” said one alcohol-industry representative who didn’t want to be quoted harshing his colleagues’ mellow.
“We don’t want alcohol to be thrown under the bus, and we’re going to fight to defend our industry when we are demonized.”
The marijuana industry has had a good couple of years: A recent poll found that 58 percent of the country thinks theproduct should be legal, recreational use has been legalized in two states already, and this past election saw the city of Portland, Maine, legalize 2.5 ounces of pot. Ahead of the vote in Portland—which received 70 percent support—theMarijuana Policy Project put up signs around the city with messages like “I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it doesn’t make me rowdy or reckless,” and “I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it’s less harmful to my body.”
Alcohol lobbyists believe it’s a “red herring” to compare the two. “We believe it’s misleading to compare marijuana to beer,” said Chris Thorne of the Beer Institute. “Beer is distinctly different both as a product and an industry.”
Thorne notes that the alcohol industry is regulated, studied extensively, and perhaps more importantly already an accepted part of the culture. “Factually speaking beer has been a welcome part of American life for a long time,” he said. “The vast majority drink responsibly, so having caricatures won’t really influence people.”