The Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association submitted testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly urging opposition to House Bill 5458, a bill that would allow regulation and retail sales of marijuana in the small New England state. The testimony was delivered by George Motel, co-owner of Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, and provided less than compelling reasons for preventing legal marijuana sales. Tom Angell’s Marijuana Moment newsletter provided a link to the testimony.
The main argument presented by Motel was that it would be overly burdensome for wineries to monitor their customers for “yet another intoxicant such as marijuana”, and potentially costly. He also explained that enforcing a “no smoking” policy on a vineyard would be costly and require additional staff and unseen costs. He even complains about the “inconspicuous vaping technology” making enforcement even tougher. From Motel’s submitted testimony:
“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.”
The idea that it’s the responsibility of a winery to check customers for “marijuana intoxication”, whatever that looks like, during wine tasting is absurd and shows the ignorance of the association and Connecticut winemakers. To also claim that they will have trouble policing their vast acreage to control people that are smoking doobies or hitting on a vape pen is laughable, at best.
Their only decent argument they made is one of pure protectionism of their industry, arguably to the detriment of the health of their citizens. He explains that alcohol sales in legal states has declined, which could impact their sales.
“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,” Motel explains. “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.”
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