SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 13: A worker at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary packages medicinal marijuana July 13, 2006 in San Francisco. San Francisco city planners are deciding July 13 if they will issue a permit to allow Kevin Reed to open the Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary right in the middle of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area, a popular tourist destination. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Legalize marijuana? Much of the California beer industry says, "This bud's not for you!" (first bad pun in a long list to come). The California Beer and Beverage Distributors filed papers with the state saying the organization plans to spend money to defeat Proposition 19, the November ballot measure that would allow adults to posess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.
Easily, some could think beer distributors would rather see Californians spend their money altering their mood with barley and hops instead of THC. But Rhonda Stevenson, a spokesperson for the CBBD, tells KNBC reporter Robert Kovacik, "This is not a competitive issue for us. This initiative has nothing in there for distribution or sale of the product. Our issues are workplace safety and public safety issues".
She went on to say, and she did so without even acknowledging the irony, "if one of our semis is on the highway heading to our retailers, how do we know if (the driver's) under the influence?"
So, I read that as saying if one of our guys is hauling beer, it would be awful if he were driving stoned.
Prop 19 backers roll their eyes, if not their joints. Steve Fox says "Plain and simply, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition. Their mission is to drive people to drink."
Joining the brewers in their opposition to Prop 19 is an array of law enforcement groups, from policemen to district attorneys. You just have to love any issue that brings together cops and booze in a joint effort (oy! that one hurt)
They're not alone. While backers of Prop 19 say taxing weed could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for the state of California, others point to market economics. Take away the risk of being busted for selling buds, and you take away the profit incentive. After all, marijuana is a ...well it's a weed.
Some predict the price of an ounce of even the finest and most potent dope would drop like a stone (god the puns just keep coming) and with the falling prices would come falling tax revenue.
But, an ally in this battle for the bong is emerging. The Service Employees International Union, a huge labor union in the state, says it is behind the pot prop. Some analysts theorize Prop 19 might energize voters to get out to the polls to vote for the cannabis, and while they're out there, they might just cast a vote for Jerry Brown too. And the union guys are far more interested in seeing a Democrat in Sacramento than an ounce of dope in every pot (okay, this can best be described as a glancing pun at best).
The SEIU could make even more noise if it decides to start spending money to push Prop 19.
And it's likely voters won't have the final say on this issue. Prop 19 can't change federal law. So should voters give the green light to grass, the issue is likely to wind up in court, where (you just knew this one was coming sooner or later) what happens at the ballot box could just go up in smoke.