With an influx of legal cannabis—both medical and recreational, readily available amongst 29 states around the country—alcohol sales have taken a noticeable drop, according to a recent study.
A Changing of the Guard: People Prefer Legal Weed Over Alcohol
The report, which sought to identify the link between medical marijuana laws and alcohol consumption, studied retail sales data for beer and wine in states that recently legalized medical marijuana. The findings concluded that two years after medical marijuana had become available, retail sales in grocery, convenience, drug or mass distribution stores had fallen 13 percent. Researchers did not factor in liquor sales, however, due to the poor quality of data.
While there have been other studies that have attempted to decipher this information strictly on people’s own estimates of their alcohol consumption, this recent report strictly looked at hard retail data. Georgia State University economics professor Alberto Chong explained how that the old method is too unreliable to make a definitive conclusion.
“[Previous] studies tried to answer the question using subjective surveys,” Chong said. “We use actual data about sales, which is much better. That’s hard data—we know the exact number of sales per store.”
The research determined that it took a full two years of legal marijuana for the aforementioned 13 percent decrease in sales. However, the study dually noted an immediate nine percent decrease upon the inception of medicinal cannabis in certain states.
And while the study only takes into account the medicinal cannabis market, Chong believes that the influx of states legalizing recreational pot undoubtedly played a factor in the results.
“The drop in [alcohol] sales is so huge—it’s like 13 percent—that there has to be some leakage,” he said.
Final Hit: Study: People Prefer Legal Weed Over Alcohol
“[There’s] a potential for some current beverage alcohol consumers to migrate away from that category and toward marijuana when it becomes legal,” the study concluded.
The study, which studied legal weed states Colorado, Oregon and Washington, also noted that cannabis would be considered a competitor to the alcohol market, rather than a compliment, as the majority of pot consumers (80 percent) choose not to intertwine the two.
However, Chong believes if cannabis supplants alcohol in Canada, it should be considered a ““good news story,” as there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the effects of alcohol are markedly worse than cannabis.
We’ll just leave this here, for good measure.