“Booze Dollars” vs. “Dope Dollars”
Beer, spirits and wine compete with one another, as industries, for the nation's "Booze Market". What these three products have in common with one another are many. Fermentation. Alcohol as a component. Socializing as a byproduct. Differentiation based on taste. Highly regulated rules of sales, distribution and consumption.
And…they also all have in common the primary effect of using them: inebriation. They are mind altering.
So is Marijuana. And based on the polls I'm reading there is a high likelihood that beer, wine and spirit will have marijuana as a competitor after the November 2nd election when Proposition 19 legalizes the growth, possession, sale and consumption of marijuana in California.
What I'm wondering is this: In a world when the sale and consumption of Marijuana is legal, will the booze industry have to deal with he possibility that consumers will switch from booze to marijuana? Will "Booze Dollars" be lost to "Dope Dollars"?
It strikes me that beer and spirits have more to fear from Marijuana's legalization than wine does. The fact is, beer and spirits are used more often and more directly as an inebriation vehicle than is wine. Wine has the benefit of being understood less as a means to altering the mind than it is a cultural and traditional artifact that we associate with celebration, good living, and the culinary arts. Marijuana is a much more purely an inebriation vehicle.
In my experience, one does not wonder what strain of dope they will serve and smoke with Brie or cured meats. And while this consideration has, in recent years, crossed the mind of spirit and beer drinkers, it is not nearly as common to consider pairings when determining how to use bourbon or Malt liquor.
It's no surprise, then, that the California Beer & Beverage Distributors have come out against Proposition 19. They claim they are not against the legalization of pot in principle, but rather that Proposition 19 is badly written. I don't believe them because I know they are smart, I know they spend money to protect their financial interests and I know that beer will lose sales to dope. And so do they.
I'm also interested in two other things: How will legal marijuana be marketed and how will some in the wine industry choose to treat this new addition to the world of consumption?
I have my doubts that the California Alcohol Beverage Control agency, who will likely be regulating the sale and distribution of dope, will allow marijuana sellers anything like the kind of freedom that wineries and retailers possess in marketing wine. But imagine for a moment the kind of marketing we will see if the freedom to differentiate dope is allowed? How will that happen?
By place of origin
By lifestyle contribution
By Cult of Personality.
But what about by the "EFFECT" of the product. Clearly different strains of marijuana produce different types of "buzz". Softer, higher, longer, shorter, harder, clearer….etc, etc, etc. And consumers WILL want to know which strain will produce which kind of buzz. They'll want to know what to expect from a toke or two. Will the potency of the strain be indicated on the package? In advertising? This is the first thing I'd consider in creating a marketing campaign for the stuff. In fact, I'd argue that not allowing this form of marketing would be irresponsible.
And which will be the first winery to say their wine goes well with dope? Which will be the first to suggest a clean and citrusy Chenin Blanc be paired with a hit of Indica or Sativa?