WSWA Announces Commitment to Federal Legalization and Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis

Mar 23, 2023
Letter urging members of Congress to act and apply alcohol-like regulations makes them the first alcohol industry trade association to take public action.

WASHINGTON, D.C., 03/23/2023 — Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) today announced a commitment to advocating for the federal legalization and regulation of adult-use cannabis by applying regulations similar to those implemented for alcohol, making them the first alcohol industry trade association to do so. In a letter shared yesterday with members of Congress, the association presented a comprehensive and robust federal regulatory framework along with warnings that addressing the issue in a “piecemeal manner” will result in de facto federal legalization that does nothing to address product safety, trade practices, or interstate sales and enforcement.


"The time has come for Congress to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis at the federal level,” said WSWA CEO and President Francis Creighton. “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 framework is built on four principles drawing on long-established federal laws governing the alcohol industry. With an emphasis on public safety and accountability, this system will provide a transparent and effective framework for adult-use cannabis production, testing, distribution and tax collecting. First released in 2021, the association updated its Principles for Comprehensive Federal Legalization and Oversight of the Adult-use Cannabis Supply Chain, alongside the announced commitment to actively advocate on the issue.


WSWA’s Principles for Comprehensive Federal Legalization and Oversight of the Adult-use Cannabis Supply Chain are rooted in four pillars:

  1. The federal permitting of cannabis producers, importers, testing facilities and distributors.
  2. The federal approval and regulation of "cannabis products and product labels"
  3. The efficient and effective collection of federal excise tax.
  4. Effective federal measures to ensure public safety.


“States have successfully regulated the alcohol market for their citizens for nearly 90 years — they should retain the authority to regulate cannabis in the manner that best suits their local needs, including being able to choose not to legalize the product in their state,” said Creighton. “Federal regulation of cannabis should focus on issues of public health and safety and interstate commerce, such as standard potency measurements, labeling and marketing guidelines, the licensing of producers, testing facilities and distributors, collecting excise taxes, and properly funding impaired driving prevention and enforcement.”


“Efforts that fail to include these critical regulatory provisions risk exposing consumers, communities, and industry businesses nationwide to the widening negative impacts of legalization already being seen in the marketplace without adequate federal oversight,” added Creighton.


WSWA is actively briefing members of Congress and staff on the importance of a strong regulatory structure based on the alcohol industry regulatory framework as the model of public safety, responsible distribution and retail practices.


As reported by POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig, “What WSWA feels they can bring to the conversation — besides the strength of their lobbying experience and network — is knowledge of how the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulates an industry producing and selling an intoxicating product. Most proposals for cannabis decriminalization, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, divide oversight and regulation of the industry between the Food and Drug Administration and the TTB, which is part of the Treasury Department.”


Those interested in joining WSWA as a coalition partner as well as to stay up to date on the latest policy news should visit


About Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

WSWA is the national trade association representing the distribution tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 %  of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.


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