A Connecticut businessman has come up with a unique argument against cannabis legalization: Giving consumers choice is bad for his business.
George Motel, co-owner of Sunset Meadow Vineyards and President of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA), submitted testimony earlier this week to the Connecticut General Assembly regarding a bill that would legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana.
In the letter, Motel wrote that:
…alcohol sales have dropped 15% in states with medical marijuana laws. That’s a large percentage of revenue these wineries cannot make up for, and could drive good jobs and businesses out of Connecticut in a struggling economy.
Of course, Motel failed to omit that creating a new industry would more than make up for the jobs lost. His other arguments were even less logical.
The bill failed to advance out of the General Assembly’s General Law Committee on Tuesday, despite public testimony in favor of the legislation. The vote was 11-6 against the bill and all three committee co-chairs voted no.
H.B. 5458 was one of just five bills marijuana legalization measures currently in the legislature. One of those other bills could still make it the floor.
I am here in my capacity as the President of the CT Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA) in opposition to HB 5458 An Act Concerning the Regulation of the Retail Sale of Marijuana.
From a business perspective, Connecticut small wine farms are deeply concerned with the liability that accompanies the regulation and retail sale of marijuana. Wineries are responsible for the well-being of their patrons. Since small wine farms already serve alcohol on premises, monitoring customers for yet another intoxicant such as marijuana puts a dangerous and costly burden on business owners. In the event of an accident, the winery bears the burden of defending themselves and paying the price. Furthermore, hiring and training staff to monitor and enforce a ‘no smoking’ policy on expansive vineyard property simply isn’t feasible – especially with the inconspicuous vaping technology surfacing in other states with similar marijuana laws.
In recent years, the Connecticut state legislature has passed a number of bills that have negatively impacted small farm wineries – Sunday sales, tastings in liquor stores, etc. HB 5458 has the potential to threaten sales beyond that of any recent legislation. Researchers from the University of Connecticut teamed up with top academics in January of this year to determine that alcohol sales have dropped 15% in states with medical marijuana laws. That’s a large percentage of revenue these wineries cannot make up for, and could drive good jobs and businesses out of Connecticut in a struggling economy.
HB 5458 has the potential to harm the local wine industry that has benefited Connecticut residents and tourists alike for decades and we urge your opposition. Thank you for reviewing our testimony.