DISCUS Officials Talk Cannabis Legalization, Tariff Issues

Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) representatives participated on panels examining cannabis legalization and retaliatory tariffs on U.S. spirits during the 2018 National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCLSA) Central/Western Regional Conference in Pasadena, Calif.

In a panel about the rapidly changing landscape of cannabis legalization, Council Senior Vice President of Government Relations Mark Gorman stated, “Each of the nine states that has legalized cannabis since 2012 has declared they want to tax and regulate it just like alcohol. As they write their laws and regulations, we want them to know what that looks like.”

“They need to calculate tax rates that are comparable to what distilled spirits consumers pay on a per serving basis,” he added. “They have to regulate product safety and retail sales like they do for alcohol products. And, they absolutely must enforce traffic safety laws for all impaired drivers, by developing accurate roadside tests for drug intoxication and testing all traffic fatalities for marijuana just like they do now for alcohol.”

Gorman noted that while DISCUS has taken no position on whether states should legalize recreational use of cannabis, it has established marijuana policy principles that they urge state officials to consider if they decide to legalize the product.

Council Senior Vice President of International Affairs Christine LoCascio also spoke on a panel at the NCLSA conference discussing the impact that recent international trade developments are having on the beverage alcohol industry. LoCascio underscored the importance of trade to the U.S. distilled spirits sector and said the industry welcomed the recent conclusion of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement.

“Trade is a key component to a strong economy, and the U.S. spirits industry and our consumers benefit from free and fair trade agreements,” LoCascio stated. “We hope that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement will lead to further discussions in North America, the EU and elsewhere resulting in the swift removal of the retaliatory tariffs on American spirits exports, so that free and fair trade for distilled spirits can be resumed.”

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