The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, afraid that they might lose market share, The Intercept reports. After a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a disclosure 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, representing 16 beer-distribution companies, 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. 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.
The alcohol industry is nowhere near unified over pot policy, however, with several craft brewing firm welcoming laws that relax restrictions over pot. Securities and Exchange Commission filings reveal that heavyweight alcohol companies have disclosed to investors that pot could pose a challenge to their bottom line. The Boston Beer Company, the parent company of Sam Adams, told investors in its 10-K filing that laws that allow the “sale and distribution of marijuana” could “adversely impact the demand” for beer. Research on the impact of marijuana legalization on consumer habits is split. Daniel Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, says consumers will substitute marijuana for alcohol when given the chance. Tax revenue in Colorado, which legalized pot in 2012, suggests consumers have continued to purchase alcohol at almost the same rate as before legalization.