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By Elizabeth Hans McCrone

Jessica Lukas Thirty-three states in the US, as well as the District of Columbia, have either decriminalized or legalized marijuana in one form or another.

Eleven of those, plus the District of Columbia, have approved laws allowing recreational use of the plant. (Governing.com, 2019).

Canada legalized marijuana for recreational use across the entire country in October of last year, following Uruguay, which did so in December 2013 (Vox.com, Lopez, 2018).

And although the federal government of the United States has not yet followed suit, many experts predict it is just a matter of time before it does, perhaps as soon as 2020/2021.

As cannabis products continue to infiltrate huge sectors of the consumer marketplace, the wine and alcohol beverage industries are grappling with either real or perceived threats to their own market shares due to the sweeping popularity of the herb.

As it happens, there are a number of highly qualified individuals and companies that are actively researching marketplace trends on this very topic.

Some of their most recent data will be presented at the 3rd annual Wine and Weed Symposium, taking place August 8, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Rosa, CA in a session called “The Cannabis Impact on Wine.”

Jessica Lukas, one of the session presenters, is VP of Consumer Insights for BDS Analytics, Inc. headquartered in Boulder, CO.

BDS Analytics is one of the leading companies in the US for data, analytics, research and consumer insights into the cannabis industry.

Lukas spent ten years working with top Global CPG and beverage alcohol businesses at Nielsen Innovation and at Dr Pepper Snapple Group before joining BDS Analytics as head of client engagement.  One of her chief areas of expertise is the intersection of cannabis and alcohol.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the overlap of cannabis and alcohol,” Lukas confirms, “especially focusing on the evolution of cannabis over time and what it means for alcohol and wine.”

“Every dollar spent on cannabis doesn’t necessarily take away from alcohol,” she contends. “If you think of the size of beverage alcohol versus the size of cannabis, cannabis is so small.”

“But,” Lukas continues, “the growth of the cannabis penetration, education and de-stigmatization, means that as cannabis gets bigger, that small impact on alcohol will also get bigger over time.”

Lukas points out that cannabis is affecting huge sectors of our society now in terms of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, over the counter medications, beauty care, skin products and more.

“It important for us to understand this industry,” Lukas contends. “We need to understand the risks and opportunities, including (what they mean) for wine.”

Lukas says her presentation at the Wine and Weed Symposium will touch on the general evolution of the cannabis marketplace, educating participants on where we’ve been as consumers and where we’re going, as well as focusing on collaborative opportunities between the two industries.

“I think there are a lot of really interesting potential partnerships coming up,” Lukas observes. “There are cannabis infused wines, now beers … and we’re already seeing in Sonoma and Napa pairing tours to create new experiences for consumers.”

Lukas points out that both industries are highly regulated by local and federal agencies, which dictates what can be said and done about putting the two consumer products together.

But, she says, as the cannabis industry continues to evolve there is much the wine industry could be taking in about consumer behavior, key trends, communication and new ways to approach the business paradigm.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” Lukas points out. “A lot of industry professionals can learn from this as they think about innovation opportunities.”

For more information about and registration to the 3rd Annual Wine and Weed Symposium and “The Cannabis Impact on Wine” go to http://wine-weed.com/nc/.

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