The Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition believes that alcohol and drugs should remain highly regulated. While the social acceptability of these substances has increased considerably in recent decades, we continue to urge caution on their broad availability and immediate access. Recent moves by certain members of the Florida legislature to deregulate alcohol and legalize recreational marijuana could have significant public health consequences.
Contrary to the mantra of the “anything goes” crowd, regulation of drugs and alcohol works. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the number of deaths associated with drinking and driving has been cut in half since 1980. Unfortunately, MADD also reports that drunk driving, “remains the leading killer on our nation’s roads, claiming 10,000 lives every year.” Worse yet, deaths attributed to drinking and driving increased between 2015 and 2016, after a long decline.
This good news/bad news scenario accompanies the problem we now face with drunk and drugged driving in the facing of legalization of marijuana and the nationwide opioid crisis. While education and autonomous vehicle technology may help or one day eliminate the problem altogether, such a lofty goal is likely decades away.
Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to support high visibility law enforcement presence such as sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices to reduce drunk and drugged driving. Currently, every state has some type of ignition interlock law
Unfortunately, drunk and drugged driving is only one consequence of relaxing laws related to alcohol and drugs. Youth access has increased significantly. For example, a University of North Carolina School of Public Health study demonstrates that disappearing alcohol purchasing and shipping regulations have increased youth access to alcohol (Rebecca S. Williams and Kurt M. Ribisl, 2012).
According to the study, “Of the 100 orders placed by the underage buyers, 45% were successfully received; 28% were rejected as the result of age verification. Most vendors (59%) used weak, if any, age verification at the point of order, and, of 45 successful orders, 23 (51%) used none. Age verification at delivery was inconsistently conducted and, when attempted, failed about half of the time.” The study can be found online here.
With these facts on our side, we must educate legislators on the subject of alcohol regulation. Preventing underage sales and driving under the influence is important. Yet, these are symptoms of deeper issues related to access, availability and over-promotion of alcohol. The current alcohol regulatory regime has held industry members accountable for the ways they promote and sell their products for many years. Unfortunately, legislation that would decimate Florida’s alcohol regulations was filed recently by Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini. His bill, HB 6017, totally deregulates the alcohol industry.
We urge you to call Representative Sabatini’s offices in Tallahassee (850.717.5032) and Clermont (352.989.9100) to encourage that he withdraw this bad bill.