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Following Summit, CAPA Gains Momentum and Mass

Thank You collage for CAPA Summit attendees

UPDATE: Watch the CAPA SUMMIT WRAPUP VIDEO.

You wouldn’t expect a snowball in LA, but the California Alcohol Policy Alliance is gaining both speed and size in the wake of the first annual CAPA Summit. Held on November 4, 2016, the summit brought together 90 representatives from 35 organizations working to promote healthy alcohol policy throughout the state. The primary discussion topic was improvements to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the state’s primary licensing body. A detailed report on the proceedings will be available soon.

The California Alcohol Policy Alliance is dedicated to protecting health and safety and preventing alcohol-related harm through statewide action.

READ MORE about CAPA and opportunities to get involved.


 
 
 

From Alcohol to Marijuana: Applying Regulatory Lessons Learned

Marijuana should not be treated the same as alcoholOn November 9th, California became the largest state in the union to legalize marijuana. Prop 64 cleared the way for personal use and cultivation; however, provisions for opening medical marijuana retailers to allow for recreational purchases don’t come into effect until 2018. When that happens, it will open the taps on what NORML estimates to be a $3 to $5 billion market. It is essential that responsible statewide regulation proven this industry from attaining the entrenchment, lobbying power, and potential for unchecked harm enjoyed by the alcohol industry.

As currently constructed, retail marijuana regulation will be under the purview of the Bureau of Marijuana Control (BMC) within the Department of Consumer Affairs. Alcohol Justice strongly urges the BMC to adopt and enforce the following policies:

 

  • Limit the availability to marijuana stores and prevent crossover marketing with alcohol and tobacco products
  • Limit advertising, especially outdoor billboards and online ads, both of which can be easily used to target youth
  • Require marijuana be sold in generic packaging
  • Ensure excise taxes remain set at levels that discourage youth use, and are regularly revisited to ensure continued efficacy
  • Limit licenses to prevent oversaturation of marijuana outlets in any given geographic region
  • Ban cross-marketing with alcohol and tobacco companies, including marijuana-tobacco “spliffs” and cannabinoid-infused spirits

 

The text of the proposition suggest some work towards these goals. For instance, alcohol and tobacco products cannot be sold in retail dispensaries. There are some limitations on advertising and packaging meant to reduce the appeal to children, but the exact parameters of youth-oriented marketing remain undefined. Many provisions allow the California Department of Public Health to enact more stringent rules if it deems necessary, and Alcohol Justice calls on the Department to exercise this power to bring BMC rules into closer alignment with the principles detailed above.

As the largest and most prosperous state in the U.S., California is in the position to serve as a leader and model for the creation of a responsible marijuana industry. By adopting strong and sensible regulations, California can protect individual growers, local dispensary owners, and the health of the public from the reckless power of another Big Industry.

FULL TEXT of Prop 64.


TPP Toast After Heated Election

someone in a Robin Hood hat holds up an anti-TPP signThe Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is dead, according to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. The trade deal, which could have empowered corporations—including the alcohol industry—to sue sovereign governments and skirt regulations, will not be brought to a vote before the end of the current congressional session.

According to CNN, NY Sen. Chuck Schumer has already informed labor leaders there would be no deal, and this was confirmed publicly by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The outgoing Obama administration has expressed the desire to continue working to pass the agreement, but with public opposition from both President-elect Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, success seems unlikely.

“Taking TPP off the table removes a grave threat to alcohol-related public health legislation throughout the Pacific Rim,” Alcohol Justice Executive Director/CEO Bruce Lee Livingston said. “This electoral season succeeded in shining a light on the troubling flaws in this agreement. Any future agreements of this kind must be transparent, and must respect governments’ duties to protect the health of their citizens.”

"We want to thank the hundreds of Alcohol Justice members who responded to our action alerts over the past two years, sending letters of opposition to this really bad deal to the President, and congressional leaders," said Michael Scippa, Public Affairs Director at Alcohol Justice. "Citizen activitism works!"


SABMiller and AB Inbev Merger Casts Global Shadow

the SABMiller and AB Inbev merger casts chains around the worldCall it Newbelco, call it the Beerhemoth, call it the biggest beer company the world has ever known—whatever you call it, the new megabrewer that formed on October 11, 2016, from the merger of AB Inbev and SABMiller will be a dominating source of global alcohol harm. AB Inbev and SABMiller were already the two largest beer producers in the world; together, they will represent annual sales of $55 billion or more. The post-merger transnational company now called Newbelco will be responsible for one in three beers sold worldwide.

As befits a global company, the threats from the merger to public health and governance are global in scale:

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Jeff Collin and colleagues of the University of Edinburgh note the strategic similarities between Newbelco and the tobacco industries. The survival of transnational tobacco companies like Altria and British American Tobacco hinges on exploiting regulatory gaps in the developing world to generate millions of new customers. (The guidelines for these strategies should already be familiar to Newbelco, since Altria Group will itself own a 10% share of the megabrewer.) Although international development guidelines forbid collaboration with tobacco companies, no such stipulation exists for the alcohol industry. Dr. Collin urges quick action to close that loophole and proactively confront Newbelco and other alcohol companies looking to flood emerging markets.

Whether or not the international health community reigns Newbelco in, the colossus may already have it's next move planned. Industry experts speculate the company may soon attempt to acquire sugared-beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola. After all, in a world where obesity, alcohol, and tobacco are among the most frequent causes of death from non-communicable disease, why shouldn't Newbelco-Altria-Coca-Cola profit from all three?