FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2010
CONTACT: Mason Tvert, SAFER executive director, 720-255-4340
Alcohol Industry Contributions Net Anti-Marijuana Spokesman on the Hill
Congressman speaking out against marijuana and Obama's approach to it has received at least $20,000 from the beer and liquor industry this cycle
DENVER -- A national marijuana advocacy organization is calling on U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) to explain why he is speaking out against marijuana and accusing the current administration of encouraging its use when he is in fact receiving money from the alcohol industry, which produces, distributes and promotes a far more harmful substance. Late last week, revelations that the alcohol industry is funding the campaign to defeat a marijuana legalization initiative in California resulted in a number of headlines nationwide and sparked outrage amongst supporters of marijuana policy reform. See <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/21/this-buds-not-for-you-bee_n_732901.html?ref=fb&src=sp for the whole story.
According to a blog post published this afternoon on The Hill's website:
"The administration is clearly sending the message that they don't think it's bad to use marijuana," Smith said on Fox News. "So they're encouraging the use of marijuana. And that simply is not a good thing to do."
"Marijuana is becoming more acceptable and the alcohol industry is defending its turf," said Mason Tvert, executive director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), a non-profit organization that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. "The booze industry and its good friends in Washington recognize that marijuana legalization is imminent and it is fighting to maintain alcohol's status as the only legal intoxicant. This, despite the fact that it is far more harmful than marijuana to the user and society."
SAFER and marijuana reform supporters nationwide are now calling on the congressman to explain his opposition to marijuana in light of his acceptance of campaign contributions from the alcohol industry. According to OpenSecrets.org, his current campaign has received at least $20,000 from the beer, wine, and liquor industry, including a $10,000 donation from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a $5,000 contribution from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and $5,000 from Constellation Brands Premium Wine and Spirits Company.
"For Rep. Smith to accept money from the alcohol industry and then work to stifle that industry's competition is unethical and hypocritical," Tvert said. "It's time he explained his reason for preferring adults use alcohol -- a substance whose use alone kills more than 30,000 Americans per year -- instead of marijuana, which has never resulted in a single death in history.
"Unlike marijuana, alcohol use contributes to domestic violence, sexual assaults, and other serious problems," Tvert said. "If Rep.
Smith is so concerned about public safety, why is he helping Big Alcohol drive Americans to drink? He should be thrilled that more Americans are making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol when they relax and recreate."
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SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) is a national non-profit organization based in Denver and dedicated to educating the the public about the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol for the user and society. Its social welfare lobbying arm, the SAFER Voter Education Fund, advocates for laws and policies that reflect that fact and no longer steer people toward drinking and away from making the safer choice. For more information visit http://www.saferchoice.org/