The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2018

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46  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2018 CANNABIS C M J CM MJ CJ CMJ N I t's no surprise that alcohol industry giants are keeping close tabs on a topic as newsworthy as legal cannabis, especially as it continues to gain ground across the United States. Considering there's a lot of money to be made in this emerging marketplace, news of established beverage companies publicly eyeing cannabis continues to grab headlines. Such was the case in mid-July, when newsfeeds lit up after the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA)—among the industry's most influen- tial voices—announced its support for the legalized regulation of cannabis in the U.S. It's big news, for sure, but don't expect WSWA to make its own foray into the cannabis world just yet. "Our position is that if your state is going to legalize cannabis, Congress and the federal government should give them a path to do so," says Dawson Hobbs, the organization's acting Vice President of External Affairs. Instead, as Hobbs explains, WSWA aims to send a message that "legalization is here to stay, and following a regulatory model similar to alcohol will help resolve the conflict between state and federal laws." "What's not good for communities is an unregulated marketplace," he adds. "The best thing would be to have the market regulated in a safe manner. Take alcohol, for example— counterfeit product is almost unheard of, thanks to these regulations. Don't we also want to offer the safest cannabis marketplace in the world?" Of course, the alcohol industry's eyes are also on its own bottom line, as fears of legalization potentially cannibalizing consumers and revenue have churned around for several years now. "The data is inconclusive," admits Hobbs. "Some studies show it competes, some say there's no effect, and some say it's comple- mentary and can even help alcohol sales. " One supplier seems to be taking anxiety out of the equation by jumping in feet first: In early August, Constellation Brands made a $4-billion (yes, that's billion with a "b") investment in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth. If that's not taking the cannabis bull by the horns, we don't know what is. We'll continue to keep tabs on this alcohol-cannabis crossover trend in future issues of The Tasting Panel, The SOMM Journal, and The Clever Root, so if you and your business are making moves in this space, we want to hear about it. Email for your chance to be featured! THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY KEEPS ITS EYES ON CANNABUSINESS AS SUPPORT FOR LEGALIZATION GROWS by Rachel Burkons Watching the Green

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