The End of Wine Is Not Near…However…

There is a certain giddiness on display among those folks who are celebrating the legalization of recreational cannabis. It’s not the same kind of giddiness you see in old photographs of those celebrating the demise of alcohol prohibition. Its has more the feel of a victory dance.

But it’s different in other ways.

No one alive today lived in a society where cannabis was legal to use or abuse. Those who smoked it did it under the cover of surretitiousness. Some covers were more threadbare than others. But when the demise of alcohol prohibition arrived, a good many folks who witnessed that day easily recalled the earlier days of legal booze.

At this point it’s pretty clear that legalization will impact alcohol sales, and with it wine sales. Today I came across this testimony of a woman who writes about her decision to give up evening alcohol self medication and turn to cannabis:

“I’d been hearing that some moms have been able to ditch their nightly glass of wine, or even their anti-anxiety drugs, as a result of using THC (in various forms). So I wondered, Why not give it a try? Even though there may still be a stigma attached to cannabis use, I didn’t have any personal qualms about using it in limited doses myself. I couldn’t see a reason why it would be more harmful than my evening glass or two of wine and taking an anxiety drug to go to sleep most nights. In fact, I figured this was probably a much healthier route.”

And this is in a medical cannabis state, not a fully legal state like California.

We are going to be reading many more such testimonies in the coming months and years. These will come on the heels of more and more evidence of Californians dropping wine for cannabis and earnest attempts by economists and statisticians to determine exactly how the alcohol industry has been slowed by legal cannabis.

Because I’m one to reiterate, let me repeat myself. Anyone who doesn’t believe that the now-legal status of cannabis will motivate a number of anxious mothers and pot-bellied fathers to switch to cannabis can’t read the writing on the wall. Will it make sense for individual members of the wine industry to try to pair up with hospitality minded cannabis producers to lure visitors? Sure. Should the industry as a whole attempt to partner in marketing? No.

Finally, this kind of experiment in legalizing alternative inebriation products is going to be interesting. The use of cannabis is primarily for one purpose, to get high. There will be branding about what’s natural, about artisan growers, about the long traditions using cannabis for spiritual and medical purposes, and about the magical properties of various strains. But in the end, nearly all the use of cannabis will be for the purpose of getting high.

Not so with wine. There is something far more substantial, cultural and social where wine is concerned. If you aren’t convinced of this, the marketers will soon be here to reiterate that point.

3 Responses

  1. Rebecca Stamey-White - January 3, 2018

    As much as I want to take the bait and argue with you about the cultural and social uses of cannabis and how getting high is real medicine, I will agree with you that it’s all marketing anyway and it’s going to get more interesting every day!

  2. Tom Wark - January 4, 2018


    If I give the impression that cannabis has no medicinal properties then that is my bad. Of course it does. And I’m very interested in them for a number of reasons. That said, I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the use of cannabis will be medicinal.

  3. Michael Longerbeam - January 22, 2018

    I understand the initial fear over cannabis damaging the CA wine industry. However, take a look at states where cannabis has been legal for some time. I’m thinking specifically of the Willamette Valley just north of us. Wine & cannabis co-exist just fine there. The majority of cannabis users continue to drink wine for benefits not offered by cannabis.

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