Underage Americans are drinking less than earlier generations but reporting concerning the latest consumption study is showing broader acceptance of marijuana which should raise concerns for both parents and policymakers. Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf said today that this underscores why marijuana industry advocates should step up their education and advocacy efforts and speak out on the risks of underage use and driving under the influence of marijuana.
A study published earlier this month by the journal Child Development is gaining significant media exposure because it documents a dramatic reduction in the percentage of underage drinkers. The study noted that contributing to the decline was stricter law enforcement against underage drinking and DUI, and evolving public attitudes due to education on the subject.
“For decades, the beverage alcohol industry has spoken with a united voice and worked to support law enforcement and regulatory efforts to fight underage drinking, support strict anti-DUI enforcement, and promote positive social responsibility campaigns,” Wolf said.
A September 23 article in The Washington Post quoted local students confirming the findings of the study, but noting they were not “avoiding all mind-altering substances. Several of those interviewed said alcohol has been supplanted as the substance of choice by marijuana, which became legal to possess and consume [in D.C.] three years ago.” Students quoted in the article also noted legalization had made marijuana more “accessible and more ubiquitous inside and outside city limits.”
“Alcohol industry efforts have made a significant contribution to the reduction in underage drinking and drunk driving. It is time for the marijuana industry to replicate the successes of our industry by supporting lobbying and education activities to inform the public about the dangers of underage use and driving under the influence of drugs,” Wolf added.
While WSWA is neutral on the core issue of legalization, it has repeatedly advocated that marijuana, where legalized by voters or legislatures, should be regulated similarly to beverage alcohol and marketed and sold in a socially responsible manner.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.