Trump "Probably" in Favor of Marijuana Legalization

FILED JUNE 8, 2018

This morning, President Trump said he'll "probably" support a proposed bill that would essentially end the federal ban on marijuana, reports the LA Times.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner introduced the bipartisan legislation called Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act. It effectively would allow states "the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders," extending those protections "to Washington, D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes," per Gardner's official statement.

"I support Sen. Gardner," Trump said when asked about the bill this morning while headed to Canada for the G-7 summit. "I know exactly what he's doing. We're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes."

You may recall US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously made it clear he wants to keep marijuana federally illegal and recently tried to get rid of a policy that prohibits the US Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws [see WSD 03-22-2018].

Currently, nine states plus Washington DC have legalized recreational and medical marijuana use and 20 states have legalized medical use.

READERS CHIME IN ON PAY TO PLAY

Earlier this week we started a conversation on the pay to play issue within the spirits industry, calling for reader commentary [see WSD 06-05-2018]. Our inbox filled up pretty quickly, so below are excerpts of the best ones:

FROM AN ON-PREMISE PERSPECTIVE. "As someone who consults on many programs, I never develop menus for accounts who are pay to play, but I have issues with this on many levels, legalities aside:

1. The money spent is almost never invested in the bar team - it simply goes to the owners ( I am not even sure the investors know about his money)
2. Suppliers control menu choices, not the bartenders or bar managers, or by extension the guests.
3. Suppliers can use these checks to block other brands from being in that account. For example, can't find your favorite tequila behind the bar, that may because Casamigos paid for it to not be there.
4. Smaller, independent brands can't play in this environment. Wonder why menus don't have more independent and interesting choices, well those brands didn't have 10k to spend on a menu (also wonder why larger companies like Pernod are all of a sudden buying small brands, it's so they can use them to give the illusion that smaller brands are becoming a part of corporate menus.
5. Consumers choices are controlled by "bribes" from large liquor companies

There are some major offenders in this town and I think our beverage scene could advance much further if it wasn't burdened by this practice. And I know the argument in favor of it would be, in the current environment of competition and spiraling rents and taxes, these dollars help offset some of these expenses. However, I can tell you none of these large brands are coming to independent - neighborhood spots, they are focused on the large groups in River North, West Loop, Loop and Gold Coast. The liquor brand helps push a wad of cash to help these restaurants open in higher rent districts, gets them a lot of PR, and then they take business from smaller more independent places who are running an honest business. Wondering why so many of your smaller, independent places are closing? But this is Chicago right…" says an on-premise consultant Peter Vestino.

THE SMALL DISTILLER PERSPECTIVE. "I'm new to the industry and think this pay to play issue is crap. The big guys have billions of dollars to use toward their brands which causes small start ups like us to be limited on our growth potential.

We opened new craft distillery this year and my husband and I went to our first meeting at a local restaurant yesterday. Although they did not suggest that we pay to play at their facility, they warned us that this is the case at many other bars & restaurants," says a distiller.

A FOREIGN PERSPECTIVE. "People often ask us if we think the UK should be legislated against pay-to-play much like the US is, but I would actually advocate against that, as it seems it has only driven it underground in the US and made it all more illicit. Instead, we're trying to change the way brands and bars work together from the ground up, so that bars in the UK move past the same deals and look at other ways to create value with their brand partnerships," says Michael Vachon, co-founder of Maverick Drinks.

If you want to keep the conversation going, send your thoughts to emily@winespiritsdaily.com

DSC ON IMPACT OF RETALIATORY TARIFFS

46% of US spirits exports and 65% of US whiskey exports are up against retaliatory tariffs because of the US' recent decision to move forward with the steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

The Council "enthusiastically welcomes" the administration's attempt to open new market agreements and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, but it is "extremely concerned" about the impact of the retaliatory tariffs, per a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross by DSC from interim Council ceo Clarkson Hine, Beam Suntory's vp corporate communications & public affairs. You'll recall, DSC chief Kraig Naasz is leaving the spirits industry at the end of this month [see WSD 04-27-2018].

In 2017, US spirits exports hit $1.64 billion, and whiskey was a key growth driver. "However, the imposition of tariffs on these products by our major trading partners threatens to seriously impede the export progress that has benefited our sector and created jobs across the country," writes Clarkson.

Below is a quick look at the current retaliatory tariffs on spirits (both proposed and imposed):

-- Mexico has imposed a 25% tariff on US whiskeys.
-- EU has proposed a 25% tariff on all US whiskey imports, effective this July.
-- Canada has proposed a 10% tariff on all US whiskey imports, effective this July.
-- Turkey has proposed 40% tariff on all US spirits.
-- China has proposed 25% tariff on US whiskeys.

WSD BRIEF:

DEVILS RIVER WHISKEY NOW AVAILABLE IN 10 STATES. Starting this month, Texas-based Devils River Whiskey will be expanding outside its home state. The whiskey will be available in TX, FL, GA, CO, OK, NE and SC through Republic National Distributing Co., Lohr Distributing in Missouri, Handcrafted Wine & Spirits in Kansas and Moon Distributors in Arkansas, per a release. Devils River retails at about $27 a 750 ml.

Until Monday,
Your Editors

Emily Pennington - emily@winespiritsdaily.com
Sarah Barrett - sarah@winespiritsdaily.com

"If you must have motivation, think of your paycheck on Friday." -- Noel Coward

------- Sell Day Calendar ---------

Today's Sell Day: 6
Sell days this month: 21
Sell days this month last year: 22
This month ends on a: Fri.
This month last year ended on a: Fri.
YTD sell days Over/Under: 0

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