If More Cannabis Means Less Beer, Would That Be Bad for America?
Well before the day in 1937 that the US Congress effectively voted to make cannabis illegal, barrels of ink had been spilled demonizing the fast-growing plant with vast potential for industrial use and limited negative health effects when used recreationally.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act came just four years after the prohibition of alcohol was ended with the 21st Amendment. Like the prohibition of alcohol - the only true outcome of which was the establishment of organized crime in the US - the Prohibition of cannabis has created international drug cartels, has cost US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, while the potency and availability has increased, and price has gone down.
The end of Prohibition created another actor in the everyone-hates-cannabis game: the Alcohol Industry. The industry has enormous economic impact and therefore, power. So when we read headlines like: "The Beer Industry Could Lose $2 Billion From Legal Marijuana" it's only natural to think of the situation in economic terms.*
(Of course, it's only a short jump to recognize that the "$2 Billion" the beer industry claims would NOT be lost to the US economy, it would simply move to another industry. And if any jobs were lost, they could follow the same path. AND, if the beer industry really has a $350 Billion total economic impact on the US economy, then the $2B loss predicted to cannabis would equate to .006% - boo hoo!)
But LET'S NOT FORGET that alcohol does not only equate to stock prices and jobs. It equates to a great deal of pain, suffering, and even death.
According to the US Center for Disease Control almost 22,000 people die from alcohol poisoning the US each year
"On average, six (6) persons, mostly adult men, die from alcohol poisoning each day in the United States"
And according to the National Institute of Health:
An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast.
If cannabis use makes a dent in alcohol use in the US, how can this be considered a bad thing?
image source: http://www.fullthrottlebottles.com/images/beer-bottles.jpg