A marijuana plant next to a bartender at an event in Tacoma, Washington. JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

If you seek a barometer that indicates not only the success but also the direction of recreational legalized cannabis in the U.S. just take a look at a recent statement supporting legal cannabis made by the 75 year-old trade group, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).

With nearly 400 member companies throughout the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, WSWA boasts it represents about 80% of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S. The trade group may seek to increase its membership and expand its product offering, which may be why WSWA recently announced official endorsement of an individual state’s right to legalize marijuana.

At first glance, the move might seem like a kind of capitulation to a market force, and it is. But a second glance at the new WSWA policy brings into focus a much clearer image. The organization supports the concept of states rights because it has benefited from that concept. WSWA wants to see cannabis legalized in the same way alcohol has been legalized, as an industry under individual state regulatory control.

WSWA noted in a press release that, “Eight decades ago, Americans acknowledged that the Prohibition of alcohol was a failed policy. The state-based system of regulation, adopted after Prohibition, created a U.S. beverage alcohol market that is the safest, most competitive and best regulated in the world”.

In other words, WSWA seeks to become the second tier that controls the distribution of legal pot just as it is the second tier in the…