Winebits 513: Marijuana, direct shipping, wildfires

marijuanaThis week’s wine news a day early, to make room for tomorrow’s annual Halloween post: A Canadian province takes over marijuana sales, plus a direct shipping lament and good news out of wine country

State control: New Brunswick won’t allow retailers to sell marijuana when the Canadian province legalizes dope sales in July. Instead, the provincial liquor store system will set up “a network of of tightly controlled, stand-alone stores.” The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports that as many as 20 stores will open, but weed products will only be displayed under glass and customers will need to show identification to prove they’re of legal age before they can even get in. The story is worth reading, even if it’s not strictly about wine, because the politicians in New Brunswick are using many of the same buzzwords to justify the system that elected officials in the U.S. use to justify three-tier and state control of liquor sales – starting with protecting young people.

More woes for direct shipping: Eric Asimov, perhaps the best wine writer in the world, has discovered that it’s not easy to buy wine over the Internet. “But now, states — urged on by wine and spirits wholesalers who oppose any sort of interstate alcohol commerce that bypasses them — have stepped up enforcement efforts. Retailers say that the carriers began sending out letters to them a year ago saying they would no longer handle their shipments. For consumers who live in states stocked with fine-wine retailers, like New York, the restrictions are an inconvenience. For consumers in states with few retail options, they are disastrous.” Welcome to the middle of the country, Mr. Asimov – as we recently noted on the blog.

Little vine damage: California grape experts say the grapes and vineyards should not suffer much from the recent wine country wildfires, reports a trade magazine for growers. The analysis says only a small percentage of the 2017 grape harvest might have been harmed by the fires and smoke, but most of the harvest was done before the fires started. In addition, the grapevines acted like firebreaks, preventing the flames from spreading as they moved through vineyards.

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