Liquor stores across Massachusetts are eager to get into the business of selling legal marijuana.
Ever since voters approved a ballot initiative last November to legalize a statewide recreational marijuana trade, a number of alcoholic beverage retailers have expressed interest in selling weed as well.
In fact, the Massachusetts Package Store Association got behind the concept earlier this month, giving liquor store owners permission to apply for dispensary licenses when the state begins accepting them later this summer.
However, the association told the Boston Herald that it plans to “remain neutral” on the issue of legal marijuana.
“Our diverse membership has differing views about the value of retail marijuana licenses for their businesses,” Frank Anzalotti, the group’s president, told The Salem News. “But we all believe that the sale of any regulated substance must be carefully controlled through highly structured rules applied to marketing, sales, training and access.”
But the alcohol industry’s newfound interest in legal weed is not setting well with the marijuana advocates largely responsible for putting the new law on the books.
Jim Borghesani, a spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), told WFXT Fox 25 Boston it is "ironic" that the alcohol market is embracing legal weed, especially after it tried so hard to prevent the law from passing.
Borghesani said the Massachusetts Package Store Association contributed around $75,000 to a campaign aimed at crushing Question 4 – a move that suggested the booze sector was concerned that marijuana would cut into profits.
Although some reports show the alcohol industry stands to lose $2 billion in retail sales nationwide due to the legalization of marijuana, there is evidence that this data is skewed.
In fact, there is far greater proof that marijuana and alcohol actually complement each other very well – something the alcohol industry is starting to understand.
Last year, Rob Sands, Chief Executive Officer at Constellation Brands, the driving force behind Corona, Modelo and Svedka Vodka, told Ad Age that his company is looking into the development of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages. To some degree, Sands even implied that the booze industry is already plotting to snatch up its share of legal marijuana.
"Why wouldn't big business, so to speak, be acutely interested in a category of that magnitude?" Sands said. "If there's a lot of money involved, it's not going to be left to small mom-and-pops."
In the case of Massachusetts, however, it is not yet known whether state regulation will allow cannabis to be sold in liquor stores.
So far, no legal marijuana state permits pot sales in places where beer, wine and liquor are sold.