Arizona Anti-Legalization Group Backed by Alcohol Industry
“Using alcohol money to fund their campaign to maintain marijuana prohibition is grossly hypocritical," advocates said.
Published on May 26, 2016

One of the most prominent pro-cannabis groups in Arizona is demanding that their anti-cannabis opponents return a donation provided by an alcohol industry organization.

A spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) said that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), an anti-legalization advocacy group, should return a $10,000 donation it received from the Arizona Wine and Spirits Company (AWSC), a state liquor group.

“Using alcohol money to fund their campaign to maintain marijuana prohibition is grossly hypocritical,” said CRMLA spokesperson J.P. Holyoak, in a statement. “They want to continue punishing adults for using marijuana, but they have no problem accepting five-figure donations from purveyors of a far more harmful substance.”

Melissa DeLaney, an ARDP spokesperson, said that the alcohol industry was acting not out of self-interest, but rather in pursuit of loftier goals.

“It should come as no surprise that a member of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry—which supports ARDP’s position on legalizing recreational marijuana—has contributed to our cause,” she said in a statement. “And given how much the alcohol industry potentially stands to gain, as seen in Colorado, their support speaks volumes about how poorly written this initiative is for hardworking Arizonans, as well as potential societal costs.”

The contribution was first revealed by the Phoenix Sun Times earlier this month.

Arizona voters may vote on a ballot initiative this November on whether to legalize recreational cannabis. The initiative—backed principally by the CRMLA—reportedly has almost all of the required signatures to place the issue on the ballot. Yet despite the measure’s momentum, recent polling suggests that Arizonans remain split on the issue.

John Winston
John Winston is a New York City-based journalist. He is also a media advisor for
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