from the buzzkill dept.
Alcohol and painkiller manufacturers, terrified that they might lose market share, are major players in the fight against pot-legalizations ballot initiatives.
The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, terrified that they might lose market share.
On the heels of a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a new disclosure this week that a beer industry group made one of the largest donations to an organization set up to defeat legalization in Massachusetts.
The Beer Distributors PAC, an affiliate that represents 16 beer-distribution companies in Massachusetts, gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, tying it for third place among the largest contributors to the anti-pot organization.
William A. Kelley, the president of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts, did not respond to a request for comment, but his organization's decision to oppose legalization is hardly unique in the alcohol industry.
In Arizona, one of the five states with marijuana legalization ballot measures this November, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association donated $10,000 to a group opposing legalization. In 2010, the last time California considered marijuana legalization, another alcoholic beverage distribution group provided financing to a law enforcement-backed campaign to defeat legalization.
[Update: The article in The Intercept had two 'links' that lacked any actual URL. An alternative was found for the link to William A. Kelley and replaced. Could not find a link to corroborate the $10,000 donation in Arizona — that link was removed. -Ed.]
The blowback against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to ban kratom has caught the attention of a bipartisan group of legislators, but a DEA spokesman has said that "It's not a matter of if. It's simply a matter of when" the DEA bans kratom:
A bipartisan group of nine senators is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to delay its "unprecedented" decision to ban kratom, a plant that researchers say holds great potential for mitigating the effects of the opioid epidemic. [...] The Senate letter, spearheaded by Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) says: "Congress granted emergency scheduling authority to the DEA based on the need for law enforcement interdiction of new and previously unknown illegal synthetic street drugs that result in injuries and death. The use of this emergency authority for a natural substance is unprecedented, so it is important to determine whether the circumstances here necessitate a jump to Schedule I.
"Given the long reported history of Kratom use," the letter continues, "coupled with the public's sentiment that it is a safe alternative to prescription opioids, we believe using the regular review process would provide for a much-needed discussion among all stakeholders." [...] The DEA cites 600-plus poison-control center calls involving kratom between 2010 and 2015 in its justification for banning the plant, and notes that 15 deaths were linked to the use of the plant between 2014 and 2016. In an interview with The Washington Post, a DEA spokesman later clarified that all but one of those fatalities involved the use of other substances. Earlier this week 51 U.S. representatives similarly called on the DEA and the White House to reconsider or at least delay the ban, which was slated to go into effect as early as Friday. In an interview, DEA spokesman Russell Baer confirmed that the ban was not yet in place. "We have not yet determined a date when we will publish that final order" putting the ban into effect, he said.
There may be a public comment period before the ban takes effect, and the White House is now obligated to respond to the petition about kratom, which has reached over 140,000 signatures.
Previously: DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz [Updated]