In December of 1917, almost 100 years ago, the US Senate proposed the infamous eighteenth amendment, an amendment, as we all know, that banned the sale of all alcoholic beverages with an ABV greater than 1.28%. This attempt by the government to legislate morality on the citizens of the US is considered to have been a great failure. People continued to drink and populate speak-easys, breweries continued to produce beer in many areas of the country, and beer and alcohol were shipped across borders, thereby avoiding federal agents. Simply put, this law was ignored by the majority of the US, and prohibition soon ended.
Fast forward 30 years from the repeal of the eighteenth amendment to the 1960s and the boomer generation is experimenting with drugs. Marijuana became the go-to drug of choice, and has remained so for decades, becoming legalized in many states during the Obama administration. Oregon, Colorado, Washington and California legalized marijuana, with many other states making the drug legal for medicinal purposes. Now, more and more states are studying the possibilities of legalizing marijuana, not just for their citizens’ enjoyment, but also for the benefit of the tax generation for these states.
The success of legalized marijuana from a tax standpoint, and as a business, has not gone unnoticed by big companies. While the impact of legalized drug sales, verses that of beer sales, is yet to be determined, we have recently learned that Constellation Brands purchased 9.9% of a Canadian company, Canopy Growth Corporation. Canopy Growth Corporation is a marijuana producing company. Consider, in the future, a cannabis-infused drink from Constellation Brands. One can rightly assume that other large beverage companies will follow Constellation’s lead.
Legality aside, how will this impact companies who drug test their employees? How many distributors conduct pre-employment drug tests or drug test their current employees? Consider the consequences to an employee of a distributor who is found to have cannabis in their system, yet the distributor for whom this employee works sells the Constellation brands? If the employee is fired, or disciplined, the employee could sue the distributor because they represent a company that owns and sells cannabis-laced or infused products. What if a similar situation occurred with a Constellation Brands employee? How can the employee be disciplined for using marijuana when Constellation Brands is in the marijuana business?
Perhaps drug testing will no longer be a requirement for employment for companies? If that is the case, how does a company deal with the opioid crisis sweeping the country? Or will the use of opioids be handled differently?
Then there is, once again, the legal issue of selling or consuming a cannabis-laden drink. States in which it is still illegal to use, or consume, marijuana might not even approve the product for sale. Those individual who lives in Kansas would have to drive to Colorado to purchase their cannabis-infused drink.
And of course, there is the licensing issue. Would a beer distributor have to apply, and pay, for a permit to sell the drug? One could assume that there would be similar restraints on depositing the cash acquired from the beer sales, as is the case with cash generated from marijuana sales in Oregon and Washington?
Expect something like a cannabis drink to hit the shelves in the US at some point in the distant future. Just like prohibition, people may react to something they cannot get or have. Perhaps Constellation Brands has taken the first step in this long journey.
For every prohibition you create, you also create an underground…