If anyone could understand the dangers of prohibition, you’d think it’d be the alcohol industry.
Prohibition decimated America’s breweries, distilleries, and wineries, with effects that are still being felt to this day. Seriously—there were 4,000 around the turn of the 20th Century, a number that dropped to less than 1,000 by the time Prohibition ended and has only climbed back up to about 2,400 today.
Ongoing (and often outright stupid) regulations in the post-Prohibition era still makes alcohol of all kinds in the United States more expensive, less accessible, less tasty, less innovative, and even less safe.
That history is what make beer industry advocacy of more prohibition and unfair regulations so puzzling. Most recently, the beer industry is lobbying to keep recreational marijuana use illegal, because some brewers think if people can legally buy weed they’ll buy less beer:
In Massachusetts, the Beer Distributors PAC has donated $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, making it the third-largest contributor to the anti-pot organization, the Intercept reports. Meanwhile, in the Grand Canyon State, Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association has given $10,000 to an anti-legalization group.
The alcohol industry’s opposition to legal weed is rooted in the concern that, given the opportunity, many of their law-abiding customers would substitute joints for lagers. In an SEC filling flagged by the Intercept’s Lee Fang, the parent company of Sam Adams warned investors that the “sale and distribution of marijuana” could “adversely impact the demand” for its beer.
This would almost be funny were it not so sad. It combines crony capitalism and an appalling ignorance of history in one terrible package.
Unfortunately, it’s not super surprising, since larger breweries already use the government to unfairly squash their smaller competitors with onerous regulations. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before they expanded their anti-pot strategy too.