Wine America’s Perspective on Cannabis and Wine

March 25, 2022   Cannabis Legislation…Words on Wine  WineAmerica Issues: Cannabis Legalization As a graduate of the 1960’s era, the idea that Congress is considering the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis on a federal level amazes me in two ways: (1) that it took so long, and (2) that it’s even happening. Given the number and enormity of other issues these days, this is unlikely to move quickly, but there appears to be a surprising amount of legislative support for the concept. That might be due to the increasing number of states which have legalized medical and/or recreational use of cannabis, so the federal government needs to catch up. WineAmerica does not have a position on whether cannabis should be legalized, and may never take one. There are issues we clearly support, others we oppose, and some where we remain neutral. However, the possibility of this happening has many major implications for the wine industry, and we have already weighed in with our opinions at the request of Congressional leadership. Here are a few of the key issues: —Agricultural impacts: Many of the regions where cannabis is grown overlap with wine grape regions, raising implications relative to water usage, the use of certain pesticides and herbicides, and a comparative lack of regulations governing cannabis growth. (The agricultural issues are more the purview of state rather than federal government.) —Marketing impacts: The cannabis industry, like the craft beer and spirits sectors, has looked to the wine industry as a model for marketing, including establishing appellations of origin, agritourism marketing programs, and Direct-to-Consumer sales. There is also an unanswered question of whether legalized cannabis would directly compete against wine in terms of consumer choice and loyalty, possibly eroding the wine market. —Taxation: WineAmerica and our beverage alcohol coalition partners successfully achieved passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which reduced federal excise taxes for everyone and created an equitable tax structure. It is important that the tax on cannabis be comparable as well so as not to give it an undue advantage. —Regulation: The Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is vital as a competent regulator of alcohol, and its resources need to remain sufficient for that role. While cannabis legalization might lead to some TTB role, perhaps combined with FDA, that should not be allowed to interfere with its current functions and effectiveness. —Misuse and Enforcement: Both the federal and state governments have clear and comprehensive regulations, and enforcement mechanisms, for the abuse and misuse of alcohol, especially involving drinking and driving. If cannabis were to be legalized, a similar system would be required, including cases where cannabis and alcohol were found to be mixed. These issues and others are addressed in legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Roy Wyden (D-OR), who initiated the CBMTRA that now benefits all American wineries. In fact, the chart below is a reminder of how much wineries of all sizes are saving because of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act advocated by WineAmerica.  How to wisely invest those savings? One option is to join WineAmerica so we can keep on saving everyone money (www.wineamerica.org/membership). For more details on the Cannabis Legalization issue, and to see what else we’re working on now, view our Government Affairs 2022 document here.  Words on Wine “Wine gets better with age. The older I get, the more I like it.” –Anonymous                                                      Cheers!    Jim TrezisePresident, WineAmericaDiversity is our Strength. Unity is our Power.
WineAmerica1380 Monroe St. NW #742Washington, DC 20010Tel: (202) 223-5175 Facebook Twitter

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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