With 13 states considering the legalization of marijuana, following the lead of Colorado, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America has a word of advice:
If you’re going to legalize marijuana, enact a three-tier system “similar to that which has proven so effective in the bev/al market.”
In a letter to states attorneys general, Craig Wolf, president/ceo, urged the states to consider both the risks of a new marijuana market and lessons learning in legalizing and regulating beverage alcohol since Prohibition.
In the letter, which has been reviewed by Kane’s Beverage News Daily, Wolf notes that alcohol “has been effectively regulated by the states in partnership with the federal government.
Each state’s laws and regulatory framework reflect the concerns of its citizens and elected officials, but all maintain the three-tier system, so that all companies engaged in the bev/al trade are licensed and regulated at each level within that regulatory structure, Wolf said.
“The three-tier system has been remarkably effective at addressing myriad issues that arose prior to and during Prohibition.” It has prevented any tier or company from establishing a monopoly, prohibited underage sales, balanced community and regional views regarding temperance with national goals for socially responsible sales, all while “virtually eliminating the market for illicit, counterfeit and adulterated beverage alcohol.”
“Without a well-organized and effective regulatory structure similar to alcohol, the marijuana market could present the potential for illicit and unregulated activity akin to that which occurred during Prohibition,” Wolf warned, adding:
“These problems ended with ratification of the 21st Amendment and the development of the robust state regulatory system that followed.”
Wolf’s letter came just a day after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) urged states to be cautious in legalizing marijuana. Legalization, he said, will be “one of the great social experiments of the 21st Century. As we implement it, we want to make sure that our society is no worse off than it was before this was passed.”
While at least 40 Maine legislators signed a letter saying they backed legalization of marijuana because of the revenue it will generate for the states — Colorado estimates stores will sell $1 billion of the product in the next fiscal year, generating $134 million in tax and fee revenue — Hickenlooper said he doesn’t “think anyone should be looking at it as a source of revenue.”
Indeed, he argued, revenues raised should be used for programs aimed at treatment and prevention.
Hickenlooper has said he fears legalization will lead to a spike among young people, and cites neurological studies showing permanent memory damage from pot smoking.
“We do have polls that show a larger number of kids expect to experiment with it because they think it’s not as dangerous as they used to think because now it’s legal,” he said.
Source: Kane’s Beverage News