WSWA Announces Support for Legal Cannabis

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The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, today announced an official policy position in favor of a state’s right to establish a legal, well-regulated, adult-use cannabis marketplace.

The WSWA is the first and only beverage alcohol association to announce such a position.

The association calls on the federal government to respect states’ rights to legalize cannabis if the states adopt cannabis-market regulations that meet a framework similar to those governing beverage alcohol.

The WSWA in a press release drew parallels between cannabis and post-Prohibition laws. “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,” says WSWA Acting Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Dawson Hobbs.

The legal cannabis market continues to expand in the United States, generating $7.2 billion in economic activity in 2016. The federal situation remains unpredictable, although not entirely hopeless.

The WSWA believes that legalization should include regulations that set age restrictions on buyers, and also license and regulate the supply chain of cannabis, including growers, distributors, retailers and testing laboratories.

WSWA outlined what it believes are 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.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Wholesaler and Cannabis Regulator. Reach him at or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Southern Glazer’s to Distribute Cannabis in Canada.