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Brief Updates on Cannabis, Wine and Beer in California

F. Michael Ayaz

All across America, states have been debating the possibility of legalizing marijuana use. Some cities and states already have local laws in place that make some provisions for marijuana use. Sometimes only medical use is allowed, while others have legislated for recreational use as well. Often touted as the free state out west, California nonetheless has some serious restrictions on cannabis use in public spaces.

According to Forbes, the official ruling on marijuana in California is that it does not mix with alcohol. Put simply, people cannot assume they have the right to sell marijuana or marijuana-infused beverages simply because they have a liquor license. In fact, California prohibits the sale and use of marijuana on premises licensed to sell alcohol. This may include restaurants and even private hotel rooms. It certainly includes wineries. Not even popular festivals may flout this law.

Still, some wineries may have much bigger fish to fry than weed at present. According to a recent CNBC news article, wineries and breweries are pressuring Congress to expand one of the best provisions for them in the recent tax overhaul. The tax reform significantly reduced the federal taxes paid in craft beer, distilling and wine sectors. However, it ends this year, unless Congress decides to extend it or make it permanent.

The excise tax cuts helped many wineries to remain afloat after the catastrophic wildfires that burned through California. Some wineries are still only recovering and may not return to pre-burn state for some time to come. Even for those who have recovered, the excise tax helped them to hire more staff, expand and invest in better machinery. They may not be able to keep as many employees or keep investing in their wineries if the excise tax sunsets after December 31,2019. It is not yet clear if Congress will decide to extend the excise tax cut provisions.

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