Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Advocates for Federal Cannabis Regulation

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America
Table of Contents

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) has officially backed federal marijuana legalization. In a letter to congressional leadership, the association urged lawmakers to regulate adult-use cannabis at the federal level, highlighting the issues caused by the conflict between state and federal laws.

Who/What is the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA)

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) is a major alcohol industry association that represents the interests of wine and spirits distributors in the United States. Established in 1943, WSWA has over 350 member companies nationwide, focusing on advocating for policies that promote a thriving and responsible alcohol industry.

The association’s primary objectives include ensuring the effective regulation of alcohol, promoting responsible consumption, and supporting policies that enable a competitive marketplace for the industry. WSWA provides a platform for members to collaborate, share best practices, and engage with policymakers on critical issues affecting the wine and spirits distribution sector.

By backing federal marijuana legalization and advocating for a regulatory framework modeled after the alcohol industry, WSWA demonstrates its commitment to addressing the challenges faced by businesses and consumers in the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization. The association’s involvement in the conversation around marijuana policy reform showcases its recognition of the potential synergies between the alcohol and cannabis industries and the importance of establishing a responsible and effective regulatory system for adult-use cannabis.

Alcohol Regulation as a Model for Cannabis

The WSWA made two main points in its letter: 1) the current system for regulating alcohol serves as a strong model for cannabis, and 2) a piecemeal approach to marijuana reform is untenable, so lawmakers should comprehensively address the issue. The association emphasized that states should maintain the flexibility to legalize or not legalize cannabis within their borders.

Interstate Cannabis Commerce

The WSWA endorsed the idea of allowing the federal government to facilitate interstate cannabis commerce, a position embraced by industry stakeholders and lawmakers in an increasing number of states.

Regulatory Priorities for Federal Marijuana Legalization

WSWA presented a policy brief outlining regulatory priorities for replacing marijuana prohibition with a legalization framework. The brief suggests that policymakers should learn from the experience of alcohol regulations to develop a model for marijuana that promotes industry competition, innovation, and public safety. The association detailed four key principles for federal oversight of an adult-use marijuana supply chain:

1. Federal Permitting of Cannabis Entities

WSWA recommended that the federal government, through the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), require permits for cannabis producers, importers, testing facilities, and distributors. States should manage to license marijuana retailers.

2. Approval and Regulation of Cannabis Products

The association advised that new cannabis products should be subject to pre-market approval and federal registration through the TTB, supporting existing quality control policies at the state level. Standardized labels should be included on all marijuana items, including product name, THC potency, net content, producer name and address, a government health warning, and the country of origin for imports.

3. Efficient and Effective Collection of Federal Excise Tax

WSWA proposed that a federal excise tax should be imposed on cannabis products at the producer or importer level, based on potency, similar to how beverages are taxed based on alcohol concentration. The taxes should be payable to the TTB on a semi-monthly basis.

4. Ensuring Public Safety

The association focused on deterring impaired driving, advocating for collaborative partnerships with law enforcement and researchers to develop technology that can identify active impairment from cannabis while funding training for drug recognition experts on the roads.


The WSWA has backed federal marijuana legalization and urged lawmakers to regulate adult-use cannabis at the federal level. They believe that the current alcohol regulation system serves as a strong model for cannabis. The association presented a policy brief outlining regulatory priorities for federal marijuana legalization. This level of support is promising for the future of federal cannabis legalization and interstate commerce for cannabis.

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