Beer, wine, and the hard stuff have had a pretty good ride. Alcoholic beverages cornered the market on legal mind-altering substances a long time ago.
Now they face potential competition if Proposition 19passes in California next week, legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.
"It's no surprise...that the California Beer & Beverage Distributors have come out against Proposition 19," writes wine blogger Tom Wark, in a post titled "'Booze Dollars' vs. 'Dope Dollars'".
Wark writes that the alcoholic beverage industry isn't against legalizing pot in principle. Instead, he says, they claim Prop 19 is badly written. "I don't believe them because I know they are smart, I know they spend money to protect their financial interests and I know that beer will lose sales to dope. And so do they."
Wark believes that wine will not be as threatened by legal pot as other beverages will be.
"The fact is, beer and spirits are used more often and more directly as an inebriation vehicle than is wine. Wine has the benefit of being understood less as a means to altering the mind than it is a cultural and traditional artifact that we associate with celebration, good living, and the culinary arts. Marijuana is a much more purely an inebriation vehicle."
I interviewed Wark earlier this year about a post he wrote on how legal marijuana might be marketed. This time, he wonders what kind of freedom marijuana growers and distributors will be given in marketing if Prop 19 passes. "Clearly different strains of marijuana produce different types of 'buzz'. Softer, higher, longer, shorter, harder, clearer....etc, etc, etc. And consumers WILL want to know which strain will produce which kind of buzz."
In the end, if Prop 19 passes (and it's losing steam, by the way, it may lose), the alcoholic beverage industry may decide if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "Which will be the first winery to say their wine goes well with dope?" writes Wark. "Which will be the first to suggest a clean and citrusy Chenin Blanc be paired with a hit of Indica or Sativa?"
I would venture to guess there are a few Californians who already know...
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