Does Marijuana Legalization Decrease Alcohol Consumption?

There’s evidence to suggest cannabis should be considered a substitute, not a complement.
Canadians Could Soon Be Spending More On Cannabis Than Liquor

There’s a particular conundrum when it comes to state legalization of recreational pot from a retail standpoint. The conundrum is the co-sales and usage of marijuana and alcohol. Some stores would prefer to sell the two products in unison. But, it remains illegal in most of the areas that allow recreational marijuana. However, there is a sect of people who believe that there is no correlation between the two substances. If anything, recreational pot would serve as a substitute for alcohol, rather than a companion. In fact, it’s even fair to ask the question: does marijuana legalization decrease alcohol consumption?

Let’s take a look at some evidence.

A Cannabis Conundrom: Does Marijuana Legalization Decrease Alcohol Consumption?

While there are many detractors, particularly in Canada, regarding the co-location co-use of cannabis and liquor, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest there’s no need for worry.

Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries even admitted as much. They proclaimed that  “there is little research to confirm that there is a direct correlation between colocation and co-use.”

Additionally, let’s look at a 2017 study called Helping Settle the Marijuana and Alcohol Debate: Evidence from Scanner Data. 

The researchers found a sizeable decrease in alcohol sales following the legalization of recreational pot.

We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes,” the study reads. It also found that marijuana legalization “had a negative effect on corresponding (alcohol) sales by as much as 13.8 and 16.2 percent, respectively”.

Another study examined only medical marijuana. It also saw a large decrease in the sales of alcohol. The study looked at grocery, convenience or drug stores in areas where medicinal cannabis was legal. While recreational pot nor liquor was factored in this study, Georgia State University economics professor Alberto Chong believes there is enough evidence support that cannabis has had a profound impact on alcohol consumption. 

“The drop in [alcohol] sales is so huge—it’s like 13 percent—that there has to be some leakage,” Chong said.

Furthermore, the federal cannabis task force by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital in Toronto. also claims there’s little to no evidence to support co-locating the two substances in a united location is any reason for concern.

“There is no evidence as to whether selling cannabis and alcohol alongside one another encourages or facilitates co-use,” the task force admitted.

Final Hit: Does Marijuana Legalization Decrease Alcohol Consumption?

The increasing amount of evidence suggests there is no direct correlation between alcohol and marijuana usage. Despite this, there are many clamoring for the two substances to be kept mutually exclusive.

There may not be much evidence yet regarding same-location sales due to lack of said retailers. There has, however, been a downward trend, in general.

In fact, another recent study even suggested that a large number of users would choose to cannabis over alcohol if given the ultimatum.

“[There’s] a potential for some current beverage alcohol consumers to migrate away from that category and toward marijuana when it becomes legal,” said the Deloitte study.

Furthermore, the study found that the majority of users preferred not to mix the two substances. By majority, we mean a staggering 80 percent of users in weed-legal states.

And with the recent data available suggesting the dangers of alcohol when compared to legal weed, it’s not hard to see why.

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