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The Worst Companies In America Make a Move on Marijuana

Some industries have made a name for themselves by being the best at being the worst. They sell products with a known body count, they have undermined science with fake experts, and they have bullied and manipulated legislatures into low-oversight, low-tax schemes that crippled public health response for a century or longer. And now they want in on the newest legal drug market—marijuana.

In mid-March 2021, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation was launched, funded and overseen by a coalition of companies that include representatives from Big Alcohol (Constellation Brands and Molson Coors) and Big Tobacco (Altria, formerly Philip Morris). The Coalition explicitly states its intention to “guide cannabis legalization and regulation at the federal level.”

This is not a philanthropic effort. In-house industry documents show that the tobacco industry has been planning for the legalization of marijuana for the past fifty years, hoping to use it to boost flagging tobacco sales. Meanwhile, Constellation has already moved aggressively into the marijuana industry, obtaining a significant stake in medical marijuana brand Canopy. Molson Coors has also already forged a partnership with marijuana companies to develop a line of CBD products.

The Coalition touts its expertise in “regulatory and enforcement structures, state and legacy systems, financing and minority capital access, tax policy, criminal justice reform, [and] social equity … .” These are not empty claims. For over a century, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco have created lasting harm in each of these domains. They have undermined regulatory schema. They have consolidated small companies to create transnational behemoths. Through endless lobbying and bottomless campaign coffers, they have crippled community abilities to offset harms by raising alcohol or tobacco taxes. By shifted liability for alcohol harms away from the companies and sales environments and on to individual consumers, they have made it cripplingly difficult to hold businesses accountable. Both alcohol and tobacco companies have invested billions in targeting ethnic, racial, and sexual minority groups.

In short, in every single one of these domains of expertise, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco have mastered the art of increasing harm.

Responsible marijuana legislation simply cannot coexist with Big Alcohol or Big Tobacco’s interests. In terms of preventable causes of death worldwide, tobacco and alcohol use have rank first and third, even during the height of the opioid crisis. Even above the simple profit motive, evidence shows that mixing these industries with marijuana increases harms from the latter. Recent studies suggest that using alcohol with marijuana substantially increases the level of intoxication versus using either alone. Similarly, tobacco and marijuana co-users have a tougher time quitting either. This Coalition must either ban alcohol and tobacco interests, or make it clear where their interests lie: in making money and burying bodies.

READ MORE about the need to keep Big Alcohol out of the marijuana industry.
READ MORE about the lobbying power of Big Alcohol.


PROJECTS

ALCOPOP-FREE ZONES

Alcopops are heavily flavored, heavily sugared, often high-ABV alcoholic beverages. They are among the most popular first drink for many youth. The Alcopop-Free Zone project used youth representatives to engage the San Rafael Canal community, educate retailers, and get alcopops off of store shelves.


MAT ACCESS
]Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder includes bupernorphine among other medications. It offers the best opportunity for people who use opioids to live long, healthy lives, but only if they have access to it. Geographic, economic, and language barriers further complicate individuals' efforts to obtain this life-saving treatment. The MAT Access Project/Proyecto Latino TAM works to educate the Latinx community of Marin on the dangers of opioids, and promote culturally competent MAT services for those who needs it.


YOUTH ACTION FOR SAFE STORES

Within liquor, grocery, and drug stores, good retail practices can not only make it harder for youth to obtain alcohol, but make youth less interested in drinking. Youth Action for Safe Stores (YASS) develops youth leaders who can evaluate stores' retail practices, engage with business owners, and promote best retail practices throughout San Rafael.

PUBLICATIONS

Alcopops 2020

Others

SRADC BOARD

Don Carney, Director, Marin Youth Court
SRADC President

Nick Moorhatch, Producer, Comcast Cable Access
SRADC Vice President

Adolfo Aguilar, member, Youth For Justice

Marcianna Nosek
, PhD, MPH, MS, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco.
Larry Merideth, PhD, Director, Marin Health and Human Services

Michael Watenpaugh
, EdD, Superindent, San Rafael City Schools

Kevin Lynch, Director of Juvenile Services Division, County of Marin Probation Department

Elia Manzo, leader, Consejo Restaurativo

Wilibaldo Pulido, owner, La Plaza Market.

Douglas Mundo, Executive Director, Canal Welcome Center.

Mary Joe Williams, CAO, Bay Area Community Resources

Sam Alexander, Pastro, First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael

Intern
Eric Bejarano, student, Sonoma State University

FUNDERS