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Major U.S. Alcohol Assoc. Announces Support for Adult-Use Marijuana

Wine Cannabis

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) announced an official policy position in favor of a state’s right to establish a legal, well-regulated, adult-use cannabis marketplace. This is the first and only beverage alcohol association to do so.

In states where cannabis is or will subsequently be legalized, the association calls on the federal government to respect the right of states to legalize cannabis if they adopt cannabis market regulations that meet a framework similar to that governing beverage alcohol.

“Eight decades ago, Americans acknowledged that the Prohibition of alcohol was a failed policy. The state-based system of regulation, adopted after Prohibition, created a U.S. beverage alcohol market that is the safest, most competitive and best regulated in the world,” WSWA Acting Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Dawson Hobbs said.

The legal cannabis market continues to expand in the United States, generating $7.2 billion in economic activity in 2016.

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. Legalization should include regulations that set age restrictions on buyers, as well as license and regulate the supply chain of cannabis, including growers, distributors, retailers and testing laboratories.

WSWA outlined the key components of effective cannabis market regulation, similar to those governing beverage alcohol. These include:

  • A minimum age of 21 for purchase, possession and use, along with penalties for providing cannabis to minors;
  • Establishment of Driving Under the Influence impaired driving standards;
  • Licensing of producers, processors, distributors and retailers; Policies to prevent vertical monopoly/integration;
  • Hours and days of sale parity with beverage alcohol;
  • Tax collection and enforcement; Measures to prevent diversion of cannabis to other states;
  • Restrictions on sale/common carrier delivery;
  • Labeling requirements that include potency and health requirements;
  • Testing of formulas to ensure product purity and consistency;
  • Advertising restrictions designed to discourage underage access and promote responsible consumption;
  • Restrictions on health claims on packaging;
  • Establishment of a designated agency overseeing cannabis industry regulation in each state;
  • Penalties for licensee violations on par with the state’s alcohol regulations;
  • and Regulations that ensure all products in market can be tracked/traced to source processor/producer.

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 370 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80% of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.

Photo: @rebelcoastwinery