The cannabis and alcohol industries have a complex relationship, built upon a history of beer and spirit companies contributing millions of dollars to groups like D.A.R.E.—which as you may recall, did not exactly strongly advocate for a regulated, taxed cannabis program, nor did it include alcohol as a drug that young people should avoid.
All this seems to be changing, as big alcohol has embraced the multitude of therapeutic benefits that cannabis can offer, and wishes to support its green friend to help the people heal and... ha ha no, of course not. It's money. Big alcohol is now dropping its attacks on cannabis because there are potentially billions of dollars to be made, and it would be a crime against humanity if they weren't getting some of that money.
The best cannabis website you probably aren't reading but should, Marijuana Moment, reports that one of the alcohol industry's largest trade groups briefed Congress on cannabis last week. The group, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), released a statement in July supporting the idea that the feds should allow states to legalize cannabis as they see fit.
Included in the briefing was a one-sheet of policy recommendations, which includes things that the cannabis industry is already aware of, and is taking or has already taken action on, such as: reducing out-of-state diversion, insuring that minors do not have access to cannabis, establishing standards for safe product testing, effective tax collections, and other actions that both industries are in agreement are critical to establishing a safe and vibrant regulated cannabis program.
One thing the WSWA did state is its desire to see vertical integration in the cannabis industry eliminated. Vertical integration allows one company to handle a multi-tier system of production and distribution—i.e., a dispensary might grow the cannabis it sells, and also process it into edibles, concentrates, and so on. But why does the WSWA care about that?
The alcohol industry generally operates under a three-tier system in the US, through which separate operators handle production, wholesaling and retail sales. Some have suggested that the alcohol industry wants the cannabis market to adopt its approach so that existing businesses like beer, wind and liquor distributors can profit from legal marijuana as well. But Dawson Hobbs, WSWA senior vice president of government relations, denied as much when the association made its initial announcement earlier this year.The alcohol industry just wants to help, that's all.
"No, what we’re talking about is just creating a pathway for states to have federal recognition of legalization by enacting appropriate regulation that creates a safe and reliable marketplace," Hobbs said at the time.