New Study Finds That Every Dollar Of Cannabis Sold Is Linked to a Reduction in Alcohol Sales
…. A Threat To Big Alcohol?
Big players in the alcohol industry have long been watching the development of legal cannabis with a careful eye, most especially with the launch of recreational cannabis markets in North America and beyond.
While some players in the alcohol industry see cannabis legalization as a threat, others see it as a special opportunity to develop new products and attract a new customer base. Customers themselves are becoming increasingly more educated about the harms of vices once thought as safe and normal – most especially alcohol consumption. The use of marijuana is already seen as normal in today’s society, and a safer substitute to alcohol.
Now, a recent study from Canadian researchers confirms that sales of medical marijuana are linked to a decrease in booze sales. The findings, which were published in the medical journal Health Policy, showed that medical marijuana legalization in Canada in particular may have prompted customers to substitute it for alcohol. The study was led by Professor Michael J. Armstrong of Brock University, who studied the sales of legal cannabis to those of wine, beer, and other liquor from 2015 through 2018 in Canada.
Specifically, he discovered that for every dollar of legal marijuana sold, there was a tie to declines in alcohol sales between 74 to 84 Canadian cents. Prof. Armstrong says the findings are not causative though it does suggest that alcohol is being replaced by cannabis. Additionally, he found that sales of alcohol from 2017 to 2018 were around 1.8% less than they would have been, had Canada not regulated medical cannabis.
“The negative association was robust to several alternative modeling choices,” he writes.
“From an academic perspective, this study found evidence that cannabis on average was a substitute, not a complement, for alcohol in Canada. This suggests cannabis might also have a substitution effect in other countries that legalize it, though that remains to be seen,” says Professor Armstrong in the paper.
“From a public health perspective, the results likewise imply that reductions in alcohol-related health impacts might partly offset the increased cannabis-related health impacts that legalization might bring,” he continues. “Furthermore, medical cannabis presumably improves the health of at least some patients by treating symptoms that alcohol had merely masked,” Armstrong says.
“Finally, from a political perspective, the results could make cannabis legalization slightly less attractive as financial policy but slightly less concerning as public health policy. This might influence legislative decisions in other countries that are considering legalization,” he adds.
Can Marijuana Substitute Alcohol?
Alcohol and marijuana are both mind-altering substances which have been used since ancient times by civilizations around the world for enjoyment. However, they are very different: consuming too much alcohol even just on one occasion or over a long period of time can result in serious health problems.
Alcoholism is a real problem in today’s society. Based on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 30 million people from ages 12 and up have experienced alcohol use disorder. Considering how widely available and easily accessible alcohol is, and the damage this can cause to families, our bodies, and society as a whole, these figures are downright shocking and scary.
Before discussing the use of marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, we must take note that anyone struggling with alcoholism or alcohol use disorder need to work with a medical professional to wean themselves off safely. Having a mental or physical dependency on alcohol is vastly different from an individual who merely wants to cut down on their drinking. You can also speak with a cannabis-knowledgeable doctor, if medical marijuana is legal in your state, about the possibility of integrating CBD into your therapy. There has been some research suggesting that CBD may indeed be useful for reducing alcohol cravings and helping individuals safely wean themselves off the drug.
That said, cannabis is a much safer substance compared to alcohol in more ways than one.
Alcohol alone is responsible for the deaths of 2.8 million each year around the world. Despite the research and illness we see caused by alcohol today, it is still among the leading causes for death and disability particularly cancer. It has been linked to around 60 chronic and acute diseases including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, breast cancer, dementia, and much more.
On the other hand, marijuana has never killed anyone. You can’t even overdose on cannabis. It’s significantly less addictive and less harmful, though possibilities of dependency still exist, but thousands of people around the world are able to consume cannabis responsibly. You can use pot instead of drinking wine at the end of a stressful day at work, to help you cope with everyday anxiety and depression, or even to help with chronic disease.
We do hope to see more studies verifying that cannabis sales result in less alcohol sales. This is only going to benefit society and our health as a whole.
But Big Alcohol doesn’t have to suffer the economic impact. If you can’t beat em, join em! And that’s what many alcohol companies are doing now: taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the growing trend of increased cannabis intake, by developing cannabis-infused beverages that merge the best of both worlds. Consumers also no longer have to choose between one or the other when you opt for a THC or CBD infused drink.