Safer Texas Campaign Calls on Texas Politicians to Abstain from Legislating Under the Influence of Big Alcohol

DALLAS, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With Texas politicians collecting a significant percentage of their campaign contributions from the alcohol industry after the November election, the Safer Texas Campaign (a project of ProtectYouth.org) is renewing its call on elected representatives to stop accepting such money until Texas passes legislation allowing 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, and Attorney General Greg Abbott, all have so far received a total of $1.4 million during the 2010 election cycle. 

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 1199 in 2003, a bill that made it significantly easier for alcohol industry 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 from law enforcement or substance abuse prevention organizations.  

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 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. The US Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey reported that two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor and that drinking is a factor in 75 percent of domestic violence incidents involving spouses. A Harvard School of Public Health study reported in 2004 that 72 percent of college rapes nationwide occurred when the female was too intoxicated by alcohol to resist/consent.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of alcohol poisoning deaths in the United States is shockingly high, consistently between 300 and 400 each year; whereas, there are no records of deaths from marijuana poisonings.  

The recent California effort towards legitimate regulation of the marijuana market, Proposition 19 (also known as the Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act), was opposed by the state’s largest alcohol industry group, California Beer & Beverage Distributors. 

The Safer Texas Campaign states that 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.” 

More info online at http://www.SaferTexas.org

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