Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.—the maker of beers such as Budweiser and Stella Artois—has been lobbying at the federal level in the United States on “government oversight of cannabis in food products” since the second quarter of 2019.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc, entered into a $100 million research partnership with the Canadian cannabis company Tilray in December 2018 to research non-alcoholic beverages containing THC and CBD for the Canadian cannabis market. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to release its regulations surrounding the use of CBD in food products in the United States.
In addition, industry associations such as Beer Institute, American Beverage Licensees, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States are all lobbying on a range of cannabis-related subjects such as “issues related to the legal status of cannabis, including industrial hemp and its derivative products,” “issues relating to proposed federal oversight of marijuana regulation,” and “issues pertaining to cannabis legalization,” according to lobbying disclosures.
The alcohol industry can bring its expertise in the “successful sale of age-restricted products” to the cannabis industry, according to John Bodnovich, executive director of American Beverage Licensees, which represents beer, wine, and spirits retailers. “Those in the cannabis industry can look to alcohol retailers for insight on how to navigate and operate successfully in a highly regulated marketplace,” Bodnovich told Cannabis Wire.
Cannabis, if legalized, should be “just as well-regulated as beverage alcohol is within the framework of the three-tier system,” said Bodnovich. The alcohol industry follows a three-tier system for distribution which includes producers, distributors, and retailers. Such a system provides for “accountability, product integrity, efficient tax collection, quality control, and the promotion of responsible consumption,” Bodnovich said.
The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America agrees. “When federal lawmakers and regulators seek out expertise in creating a regulatory framework for the ever growing cannabis marketplace, we are ready to offer up best practices,” Michael Bilello, senior vice-president for communications and marketing at the organization told Cannabis Wire.
The Beer Institute has been asked in “meetings on Capitol Hill” about cannabis in the context of the three-tier system for regulating alcohol, a spokesperson for the Institute told Cannabis Wire. The Beer Institute has current and former C-level employees of major alcohol companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Constellation Brands, MillersCoors and Heineken USA, on its board of directors.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is also lobbying on the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide legal protections to financial institutions serving cannabis, while the National Beer Wholesalers Association is lobbying on both the SAFE Banking Act and the STATES Act, which would protect state-legal cannabis businesses from federal prosecution.
Both these associations, and the American Beverage Licensees, are also discussing impaired driving and workplace safety in the context of cannabis with policymakers, their representatives told Cannabis Wire.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association’s members “operate in legal marijuana states, medical states and in states where marijuana remains illegal,” Lauren Kane, vice-president of communications at the association told Cannabis Wire. “As the federal government debates marijuana policy, we have an interest in ensuring that effective state and federal regulation is considered,” she said about the association’s lobbying interest in the SAFE Banking Act and the STATES Act.
And as Cannabis Wire previously reported, Constellation Brands—the alcohol company that invested $4 billion in one of the world’s highest-valued cannabis companies, Canopy Growth—has been monitoring and discussing “legislative proposals on cannabis,” including the SAFE Banking Act and the STATES Act.
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. and Constellation Brands did not respond to requests for comment.
The alcohol companies and industry associations lobbying on cannabis at the federal level: