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Big Labor, Big Beer At War Over Big Pot

One of the most entertaining sideshows in the debate over Proposition 19, California’s marijuana legalization initiative, has been watching various organizations take sides.

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One of the most entertaining sideshows in the debate over Proposition 19, California’s marijuana legalization initiative, has been watching various organizations take sides. This week we’ve seen the Service Employees International Union, the largest labor union in California, come out in favor of the proposition, and the California Beer & Beverage Distributors come out against it.

The SEIU has major influence in the state, with 700,000 members, 15 local chapters, and plenty of political muscle. The organization hasn’t promised any cash, but its blessing could be a boon to the grassroots Prop. 19 initiative, which can’t even afford to make TV ads.

In a letter yesterday, SEIU president Bill A. Lloyd explained his support: “These new revenues [from marijuana taxation] will help the state and local governments protect and invest in jobs we need to provide for our families.” Not to mention if the marijuana industry takes off, there will be scores of new service jobs.

While the SEIU’s support may encourage other reputable organizations to come forward in favor of Prop. 19, there is still plenty of opposition to contend with. The most recent group to denounce Prop. 19 is The California Beer & Beverage Distributors, which donated $10,000 to Public Safety First, an anti-Prop. 19 committee. According to the Huffington Post, the CBBD hasn’t responded to calls for comment. But it’s easy enough to guess why beer distributors don’t want legal marijuana–it’s direct competition.

 

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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