For the first time in the event’s history, WSWA’s Access live included exhibitors representing hemp-infused intoxicating beverages on the show floor. More than a dozen exhibitors represented their brands at HQ Connect, the convention show floor. While products containing THC were not sampled and distributed during the event, vendors were able to rep their brands and educate wholesalers on flavor profiles, potency and the ever-growing variety of products in their portfolios.
This represents a huge leap forward toward encouraging full legalization of beverages containing THC as well as the comprehensive regulation in a regime similar to the three-tier system controlled by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
“Consumer sentiment is always changing, and industry inevitably has to change with it,” said WSWA President and CEO Francis Creighton. “Having our Access LIVE hemp neighborhood illustrates the dynamic nature of the wholesale tier, helping brands and retailers connect with consumers where they are today. Now we just need the federal government to evolve with the market, get its head out of the regulatory sand and protect public health and safety by regulating this product.” WSWA is committed to ensuring its members are educated on what’s happening in the intoxicating hemp-derived beverage industry.
WSWA is the first beverage alcohol industry group to call on Congress to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis through a comprehensive regulatory model. In March 2023, WSWA sent an open letter to members of Congress advising: “The success of our alcohol regulatory system offers a proven model for cannabis regulation, one that will promote public health and safety as well as a fair and competitive marketplace.”
WSWA’s position on cannabis regulation is based on its Principles for Comprehensive Federal Legalization and Oversight of the Adult-use Cannabis Supply Chain:
- The federal permitting of cannabis producers, importers, testing facilities and distributors.
- The federal approval and regulation of "cannabis products and product labels"
- The efficient and effective collection of federal excise tax.
- Effective federal measures to ensure public safety.