California ABC issues $400,000 settlement against beer wholesalers

The California ABC issued a press release stating that they had issued on of the biggest penalties in the history of the ABC. Primarily levied against Anheuser-Busch, LLC’s distributorships, the settlement is for prohibited marketing practices. The distributors are accused of providing “things of value” to retailers, thus creating an unfair marketplace. The year-long investigation in this case begun back in 2015.

Our Take: Some of the infractions seem minor here, but many ABCs around the country take “Tied House” laws very seriously and won’t stand for any things of value to be provided. It’s a bit surprising to see the California ABC issue such a major settlement, akin to what has become standard fines from the New York SLA. California is clearly sending a message to the rest of the industry here.

First Salvo? Feds target Cannabis Cup

In what may be the first shot from the Department of Justice in their effort to start cracking down on cannabis, the Reno Gazette-Journal posted a warning letter from U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden to the Moapa Paiute Tribe. Referring to the upcoming Cannabis Cup to be held this week outside of Las Vegas, the letter states that the “transport, possession, use and distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana, is prohibited by 21 U.S.C. 841.”.

What’s notable about the letter is the specific reference to the Cole Memo, which Bogden clarifies should only be interpreted as providing guidance for decision making and does not at all preclude the enforcement of federal law. The letter also goes on to clarify that nothing precludes the Department of Justice from taking action to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in “Indian Country” or on tribal lands.

Our Take: If you’re headed to the Cannabis Cup this week, don’t bring any greens. It seems like there is a strong likelihood the feds will come knocking and might look to send a strong message here.

Hello world, and welcome

… to the Obsequium Blog. This is our very first post on Obsequium, and we’re really excited to get started. We’re starting this blog at a time when a tremendous amount of uncertainty exists in the United States. Donald Trump started his presidency this week, and we really don’t know much about what that will mean for the cannabis or the beverage alcohol industries. At the same time, both industries are booming in sales, and public opinion for medical and adult use cannabis is at an all-time high.

The cannabis industry eagerly awaits for more information from the President and his Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions. Sessions’ confirmation hearing did not provide much clarity on how they plan on dealing with the conundrum of marijuana being listed as a “Schedule 1” drug on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) federally, but legal for “adult use” in eight states plus D.C. AND either decriminalized or legal for medicinal use in the majority of states, for the vast majority of the U.S. population. We’ll surely have much more to say about Sessions and federal action on cannabis in future posts.

For beverage alcohol producers and importers, it’s currently pretty darned complicated to deal with the web of federal and state regulations for alcohol production and sales, especially if you’re doing business in multiple states. Yesterday, the President said that he’d like to cut regulations by more than 75%. How will that impact the alcohol industry and its boutique federal agency, TTB? As the industry continues the trends of direct delivery, consolidation, personalization, and the growth of craft, how will the regulatory landscape adjust and keep pace?

The goal of this blog is to attempt to take a complicated, and ever changing maze of laws and regulations and distill it into insights and information that you can understand easily. We are going to focus on two industries that will certainly have a tremendous amount of overlap: cannabis and beverage alcohol. At times we’ll take a macro perspective and at times we might get in the weeds, but hopefully we’ll do both without much of an agenda. We’ll write original pieces, but also will curate news and updates from around the interwebs.

Of course, we’ll provide a legal disclaimer at all times. Nothing in this blog should be interpreted or misconstrued as legal advice.

We hope you come along with us in this journey. Comments, suggestions, feedback, and criticism are all welcome. Please let us know how to make this blog more valuable for you by commenting on the posts and contacting us with your thoughts.

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