Drug of choice?National Journal

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Pot Shots

Marijuana has been giving alcohol a bad name. So contend booze lobbyists, who are sick of an ad campaign claiming pot is safer than their beloved beverages.

"We're not against legalization of marijuana; we just don't want to be vilified in the process," says one member of an alcohol trade group who didn't want to be quoted harshing his colleagues' mellow.<<phrase is a pot joke, JO says, so we will leave it/sr "We don't want alcohol to be thrown under the bus, and we're going to fight to defend our industry when we are demonized." The marijuana industry has had a good couple of years: A recent poll found that 58 percent of Americans think the product should be legal; recreational use has been legalized in two states; and Tuesday's election saw Portland, Maine, legalize 2.5 ounces of pot. Before the Portland vote — where legalization got 70 percent support — the Marijuana Policy Project put up signs around town with messages like "I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it doesn't make me rowdy or reckless," and "I prefer marijuana ... because it's less harmful to my body." MPP says it's a perfectly valid comparison. "That's like saying we shouldn't talk about relative harms of sushi to fried chicken," argues Mason Tvert, who in addition to working at MPP wrote a book called Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? Perhaps there's a need for a booze and weed summit, where shots would be taken, not fired.

Ben Terris

Separate Ways

What do Tuesday's elections for governor portend for the Republican Party? The path to victory leads through the nation's melting-pot suburbs. Look no further than Bergen County, N.J., and Fairfax County, Va., for evidence. Like the nation as a whole, both counties were once almost uniformly white and leaned Republican; both are now increasingly multiracial and vote Democratic in presidential elections. Gov. Chris Christie won Bergen County by 46,000 votes. In contrast, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, best known for his social conservatism, lost Fairfax County by 60,000 votes. That's a major step backward, given that Republican Bob McDonnell narrowly won Fairfax in 2009. "We're getting smoked in these areas," said former GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who represented a Fairfax County-based House district from 1992 to 2008. "Northern Virginia is a disaster for Republicans; these [statewide candidates] do not know how to run up here. They focus so hard on the social issues, cultural stuff." No wonder, then, that GOP strategists have pointed to Christie's resounding victory — he racked up sizable leads in diverse, suburban parts of the Garden State because of his appeal among moderates — as a model for the party's candidates to emulate. It works.

Josh Kraushaar

Murmurs

Home Games If football rivalries replaced political ones, that would be fine with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. A member of the budget conference now underway, he said that during a recent conversation with President Obama, he argued in favor of solving the country's long-term debt and deficit issues. Obama said, if we do that you're "gonna go home in 2017," Johnson recounted. "I said, 'I'd be happy to go home in 2017, and our only rivalry be Bear-Packer games.' "

Disaster Beacon Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt has jumped into the race for the Arkansas congressional seat being vacated by Republican Tom Cotton, who is trying to capture Sen. Mark Pryor's seat next year. The Democrat ran FEMA during the Clinton administration, and it's expected those ties could boost his fundraising. Still, he faces an uphill fight in a district where Cotton bested his opponent last year by more than 20 points.

Pot Shots

Marijuana has been giving alcohol a bad name. So contend booze lobbyists, who are sick of an ad campaign claiming pot is safer than their beloved beverages.

"We're not against legalization of marijuana; we just don't want to be vilified in the process," says one member of an alcohol trade group who didn't want to be quoted harshing his colleagues' mellow.<<phrase is a pot joke, JO says, so we will leave it/sr "We don't want alcohol to be thrown under the bus, and we're going to fight to defend our industry when we are demonized." The marijuana industry has had a good couple of years: A recent poll found that 58 percent of Americans think the product should be legal; recreational use has been legalized in two states; and Tuesday's election saw Portland, Maine, legalize 2.5 ounces of pot. Before the Portland vote — where legalization got 70 percent support — the Marijuana Policy Project put up signs around town with messages like "I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it doesn't make me rowdy or reckless," and "I prefer marijuana ... because it's less harmful to my body." MPP says it's a perfectly valid comparison. "That's like saying we shouldn't talk about relative harms of sushi to fried chicken," argues Mason Tvert, who in addition to working at MPP wrote a book called Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? Perhaps there's a need for a booze and weed summit, where shots would be taken, not fired.

Ben Terris

Separate Ways

What do Tuesday's elections for governor portend for the Republican Party? The path to victory leads through the nation's melting-pot suburbs. Look no further than Bergen County, N.J., and Fairfax County, Va., for evidence. Like the nation as a whole, both counties were once almost uniformly white and leaned Republican; both are now increasingly multiracial and vote Democratic in presidential elections. Gov. Chris Christie won Bergen County by 46,000 votes. In contrast, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, best known for his social conservatism, lost Fairfax County by 60,000 votes. That's a major step backward, given that Republican Bob McDonnell narrowly won Fairfax in 2009. "We're getting smoked in these areas," said former GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who represented a Fairfax County-based House district from 1992 to 2008. "Northern Virginia is a disaster for Republicans; these [statewide candidates] do not know how to run up here. They focus so hard on the social issues, cultural stuff." No wonder, then, that GOP strategists have pointed to Christie's resounding victory — he racked up sizable leads in diverse, suburban parts of the Garden State because of his appeal among moderates — as a model for the party's candidates to emulate. It works.

Josh Kraushaar

Murmurs

Home Games If football rivalries replaced political ones, that would be fine with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. A member of the budget conference now underway, he said that during a recent conversation with President Obama, he argued in favor of solving the country's long-term debt and deficit issues. Obama said, if we do that you're "gonna go home in 2017," Johnson recounted. "I said, 'I'd be happy to go home in 2017, and our only rivalry be Bear-Packer games.' "

Disaster Beacon Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt has jumped into the race for the Arkansas congressional seat being vacated by Republican Tom Cotton, who is trying to capture Sen. Mark Pryor's seat next year. The Democrat ran FEMA during the Clinton administration, and it's expected those ties could boost his fundraising. Still, he faces an uphill fight in a district where Cotton bested his opponent last year by more than 20 points.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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