Weed or Wine?

THE LEGALIZATION OF CANNABIS AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE BC WINE INDUSTRY.

 

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 recreational use of cannabis in Canada was officially legalized, making it the second country in the world to do so.

Canada has a progressive history; from being the fourth country globally to legislate same sex marriage, to the opening of the first North American supervised injection clinic in Vancouver in 2003.

Now that weed is legal and readily available alongside alcohol, will BC consumers feel the need to sacrifice one for the other?

Cannabis and alcohol have a lot in common; primarily because they are both considered (now officially) legal recreational drugs.  While many are celebrating the progressive jump forward, some are also questioning the potential impacts the dynamic duo may have on the thriving BC wine industry. 

Every province in Canada has established their own unique laws surrounding cannabis.  The BC government is dealing with cannabis much like liquor.  In fact, it’s the BC Liquor Distribution Board that is the governmental body responsible for its distribution.  Licensed producers will pay a tax to the government, and new cannabis taxes will be added onto existing taxes, making the price of cannabis soar exponentially.

Like craft beer and garagiste wine labels, micro licenses are expected to come out – creating a ‘craft cannabis’ market.  Shortage for the product will be filled by imports – much like wine or any other high demand commodity.

These close similarities beg the question: will the legalization of cannabis end up hurting or empowering the BC wine market?

In Oregon, cannabis has been recreationally legal since 2015.  Since that point, the state has experienced a sharp decrease in beer and wine sales that directly correlates with the legalization timeline.

Internal business to business issues between the two industries have started appearing alongside gradual legalization.  Recently, Wine Spectator opened a legal case against Weed Spectator for trademark infringement.  Tasting wheels and 100-point systems have been created for cannabis, much like those for wine; offending many in the wine industry. 

But, what’s the deal?  Can’t we all just get along?  It’s not uncommon for ideas to be copied and interpreted to fit different business models.  That’s the nature of the game. 

Some in the wine industry are embracing the times and adding pot to their portfolio of wine offerings.  Big drinks corporations are getting on board the cannabis trade to seek opportunities surrounding the similarities and comparable consumers in the two markets.  Constellation Brands bought a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp, a Canadian marijuana company with plans to make cannabis infused drinks.  A patent has been filed by a Canadian company to produce beer brewed from cannabis, replacing traditional grains with cannabis.

Many see the legalization of cannabis as a threat to the drinks industry as statistics show drinkers are already steadily moving away from ABV products and towards more natural products infused with THC (a chemical component of marijuana).

Cannabis appeals to health-conscious individuals, and many believe it to be a safer choice than alcohol.  High income earners, baby boomers and women fall into this category – a major slice of the consumer pie.

In addition to consumer taste, cannabis as a raw product just performs better.  Cannabis plant production is faster and cheaper than grape vines and requires less water.

So, alongside the nationwide legalization of cannabis will we begin to see the Okanagan cannabis market pull ideas from the thriving local wine industry? 

Okanagan cannabis tourism?  Cannabis tasting rooms?

It’s already happening and finding great success in California. 

Only time will truly tell whether or not cannabis becomes a companion or competitor to wine locally.  But like any change and monumental step forward in modern times, we must adapt – and so must correlating businesses. 

Adapt or retract…

Fit in or… you know…

Cannabis is here to stay, with proven benefits including natural pain tolerance and mental health balance.  So, ask yourself, what’s worse?  Alcohol or smoking a joint? 

Does it come down to knowing your limits?  Going with what’s more affordable?  Becoming more conscious about your health?  Keeping the drugs separate (no mixing)?  Or does one truly outweigh the other?

I’d love to hear your opinion! 

Cheers for now and happy smoking,

Katie