Key US alcohol trade group endorses legalization of recreational cannabis

One of the nation’s biggest alcohol trade associations has thrown its support behind the legalization of adult-use marijuana, a groundbreaking move that could accelerate cooperation between cannabis and liquor businesses.

The endorsement underscores that the two industries increasingly are finding common ground after years of rivalry.

In a statement, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) said Thursday the federal government should respect the right of states to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.

The association has roughly 370 members who distribute more than 80% of the nation’s wholesale wine and liquor.

“WSWA believes that, similar to alcohol, the federal government should give states the power to legalize cannabis, but should ensure they meet an appropriate regulatory threshold,” the statement said.

The group noted that “it is the first and only beverage alcohol association” to endorse the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

The announcement moves the association away from its prior “neutral” position on marijuana legalization.

“This is a larger acknowledgment that cannabis is truly a safe recreational product, and could lead to new products that consumers want,” said Jon Cooper, CEO of Ebbu, a cannabis research firm working with Ceria Beverages – founded by Blue Moon founder Keith Villa – to create a cannabis-infused beer.

In its news release, WSWA said it would like to see the implementation of the following regulations, which are similar to those governing the alcohol industry:

  • A minimum age of 21 for the purchase, possession and use of marijuana, along with penalties for providing cannabis to minors.
  • The establishment of standards governing driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • The licensing of producers, processors, distributors and retailers – and policies to prevent vertical monopoly and integration.
  • Hours and days of sale parity with beverage alcohol.
  • Tax collection and enforcement and measures to prevent diversion of cannabis to other states.
  • Labeling requirements that include potency and health requirements.
  • Testing to ensure product purity and consistency.
  • Advertising restrictions designed to discourage underage access and promote responsible consumption of MJ.
  • Restrictions on health claims on packaging.
  • The creation of a designated agency overseeing cannabis industry regulation in each state.
  • Penalties for violations on par with the state’s alcohol regulations.
  • Track-and-trace regulations tying product to source processor/producer.

Cooper welcomed the group’s regulatory recommendations.

“I thought that was a smart way to think about cannabis regulations,” he said. “It’s helpful to our industry to get those kinds of comments.”

4 comments on “Key US alcohol trade group endorses legalization of recreational cannabis
  1. Diane Gracely on

    None of this will happen until “We the People” change our government on local and federal levels. We must vote for pro cannabis candidates on both local state and federal levels. Not many people will base voting for a candidate for this sole purpose. So we end up with too many anti cannabis in our government. Jeff Sessions MUST go. Each state must make sure they vote for a governor and legislators who are pro cannabis. The only way progress could be made with legalization of recreational cannabis is if everyone, everywhere, voted strictly for each local state and federal candidate with the sole purpose that they are pro cannabis. But this will never happen because we cannot make people choose to vote for candidates based solely on them being pro cannabis and not anti cannabis candidates. THINK about it, seriously. IF we voted for ALL pro cannabis candidates on local state and federal levels we would have progress.

    Reply
  2. Al on

    I come from the alcohol supplier side and it’s pretty transparant that WSWA wants to control all cannabis distribution, make direct to dispensary/consumer illegal and grab margin.
    Here’s a snip from Tom Wark’s recent blog post with the link to the full story. Worth a read.

    “So, it’s no surprise that the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association has declared its support for Cannabis legislation under the condition that wholesalers be given a legal mandate that all cultivators MUST sell only to them and all dispensaries MUST only purchase their inventory from them.
    Try to imagine Google announcing that they are all in favor of social media services like Twitter and Facebook, but only if Facebook pages and tweets are accessed via a Google search. The WSWA’s position is just that insane.”

    https://fermentationwineblog.com/2018/07/dont-let-incompetent-wine-wholesalers-kill-cannabis/

    Reply
    • Ma Dang on

      Having worked in the wine business for 35+ years, I have witnessed the direct to consumer model and can say that they control pricing and pick winners and losers, prioritize sales with larger players and simply don’t like the idea of 100’s of brands in their portfolios.

      To maintain a level playing field, the two industries MUST be kept seperate, with no crossover.
      You either distribute alcohol OR Cannabis, but not both.

      Reply

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