|Graphic: Safer Texas Campaign|
Texas politicians are heavily under the influence of alcohol — big alcohol industry money, that is.
With Texas politicians collecting a significant percentage of their campaign contributions from the alcohol industry after the November election, the Safer Texas Campaign is renewing its call on elected representatives to stop accepting such money until Texas allows the regulated use and sale of marijuana as a safer alternative to alcohol.
According to campaign records provided by the nonpartisan, nonprofit FollowtheMoney.org, the five Texas politicians who have received the largest contributions from the alcohol industry are:
• Governor Rick Perry
• U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
• Lt. Governor David Dewhurst
• Texas House Speaker Joe Straus
• Attorney General Greg Abbott
These five politicians accepted a total of $1.4 million from Big Alcohol during the 2010 election cycle, according to the Safer Texas Campaign, which is a project of ProtectYouth.org.
|Photo: Safer Texas Campaign|
|The alcohol industry gave more than $1.4 million to just the top five recipients in the political arena.|
Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature in 2003 passed House Bill 1199, which made it a lot easier for alcohol industry front groups to pass sales initiatives in “dry” cities.
Despite the tremendous social and economic cost of alcohol use on families and communities, the legislation received no opposition whatsoever from law enforcement or substance abuse prevention organizations — the very groups who are the loudest in their opposition to marijuana legalization.
Since HB 1199 took effect, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission reports at least 391 local alcohol sales initiatives have passed statewide — compared to only 71 initiatives approved by voters during the eight years prior to HB 1199 — and the number of “dry” counties in the state has dropped from 51 to 26.
Studies show that alcohol use contributes to aggressive and risk-taking behavior potentially leading to acts of violence, whereas marijuana use does not.
|Figure it out, man.|
The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey reported that two of every three victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor.
The survey also showed that drinking is a factor in three out of every four domestic violence incidents involving spouses.
A 2004 study from the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 72 percent of college rapes nationwide occurred when the female was too intoxicated by alcohol to resist or consent.
The number of alcohol overdose deaths in the United States is shockingly high, consistently between 300 and 400 fatalities each year. There are no records of any deaths from marijuana overdoses.
The recent effort in California towards legitimate regulation of the marijuana market, Proposition 19, was opposed by the state’s largest alcohol industry group, California Beer & Beverage Distributors.
According to the Safer Texas Campaign, it is not anti-alcohol, nor does it advocate the use of marijuana.
“Our campaign works to address increasing public safety concerns that our state laws prohibiting the marijuana market are sending a dangerous message to the public that alcohol is more acceptable than marijuana,” said Craig Johnson, coordinator of the Safer Texas Campaign.
“Every objective study on alcohol and marijuana has shown marijuana is a much safer substance than alcohol to both the user and to society, so our legislators should not be driving more Texans to drink by prohibiting the safer alternative of marijuana,” Johnson said.