Politics & Policy

Pot and Booze Lobbyists Rumble in Washington


A legal medical-marijuana user lights up at his home in Portland, Me.

Photograph by Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

A legal medical-marijuana user lights up at his home in Portland, Me.

The pro-marijuana legalization lobby has a lot to celebrate. On Nov. 5 the residents of Portland, Me., voted to legalize adult marijuana use in their city. Meanwhile, Colorado voters approved a ballot measure to tax legal pot sales, scheduled to start in January, to raise money it can use to fend off possible federal interference.

But not everybody is applauding the success of the pot lobby. The alcohol industry in particular is displeased with billboard ads that the Washington (D.C.)-based Marijuana Policy Project funded in Portland, which feature people talking about how they smoke weed because it’s better for you than booze. In one case, a spokesmodel says he prefers pot because it doesn’t make him “rowdy or reckless” like alcohol does.

The booze industry has vigorously protested. “We’re not against legalization of marijuana, we just don’t want to be vilified in the process,” fumes a liquor industry representative. “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.”

Under the circumstances, we couldn’t help imagining what happens when lobbyists for these two industries bump into each other on Capitol Hill.

Liquor lobbyist: “Hey, congratulations on last week. But what are you trying to do with those billboards in Maine?”

Pot lobbyist: “Don’t you love them? We did extensive focus-group testing and found that people really respond to our message. After all, it is hypocritical to criminalize weed when it’s perfectly legal to drink Jack Daniels.”

Liquor lobbyist: “Dude, you’re slamming our product!”

Pot lobbyist: “Oh, come on, you’re doing great. Booze is back. People are drinking cocktails again. Who would have predicted that when we were in college back in the ’80s?”

Booze lobbyist: “You should tread a little more carefully. You guys are going around saying booze makes people reckless? We don’t need more federal regulations. You know that means lower profits for our members.”

Weed lobbyist: “Mellow out! We’re just stating the facts. Weed isn’t as bad for you as booze.”

Booze lobbyist: “Well, I wouldn’t say it’s great for anybody. It just made me want to hide in my room in college. Or drink more.”

Weed lobbyist: “I guess nobody’s pure in this debate.”

Booze lobbyist: “Then why don’t you stop attacking us?”

Weed lobbyist: “Not until we win a few more ballot measures.”

Booze lobbyist: “I need a drink.”

Ghost_image
Leonard is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

Cash Is for Losers
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus