Cannabis and the Wine Industry Redux

Friends – this week is the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium – one of the key US wine trade shows on the annual circuit.  Think MJBizCon Vegas, but in Sacramento and with more fleece vests.

One of the topics of conversation was, naturally, Cannabis.  My friend and cohort at Hinman & Carmichael in San Francisco, Rebecca Stamey-White,* spoke on the overlap between wine and Cannabis, which you can read all about here: link.  I’ve also discussed this topic in my blog! and also in my blog!.

The wine industry, like the rest of the alcoholic beverages category, is thinking about what to do about Cannabis.  If you read the Silicon Valley Bank report that I discussed in my blog!, you’ll see that one big unknown for the industry is the elusive millennial.**  Similarly, the topic of conversation at Unified (well, at least, my conversations, since when I introduce myself as a cannabis and wine deal lawyer to people at a wine conference, the chat quickly changes to this topic, so it’s not an honest sample size, I admit, but this is a one-sided blog, and it’s free, so you get what you pay for) was whether the millennial sees Cannabis as a substitution product for wine/beer/spirits.  I got a lot of smart opinions about this, and they’re all correct and/or incorrect. If you ask me what I think, well, I’m just a lawyer, not an analyst.

But, since you asked, what I think is what I’ve said before, and which Rebecca gets at in her comments in the article - even though the alcohol industry can’t do that much about it yet (although, as well all know, the big players are doing something about it), it could be positioning for the future by making connections, doing diligence, and developing strategies.  Where the wine and beer industries work to find opportunities for growth and fight for market share, the Cannabis industry only has upside right now (given that legal Cannabis is only recently starting from zero).  The synergy is apparent and there for the creative.

Also, a clarification.  On 1/29, I sent out a blog! post discussing Plus Products’ convert offering.  Well, Jake Heimark, CEO of Plus Products emailed me to confirm that, indeed, their new notes are all convertible at the holder’s option – there’s no mandatory conversion by Plus.  Thanks, Jake, for clarifying that, and for some additional color on the Canadian underwriting process.***

Excelsior! 

*If you’re not using her for your cannabis/alcohol regulatory advice, well, you should – she’s the best around.

**To my surprise, not the same thing as the Y2K bug.

***Dear SEC: this blog is definitely not a securities offering.

Written by: Marc Hauser