Cannabis vs. Beer: Alcohol industry worried by declining sales

An American study recently looked at states where medicinal cannabis is legal and studied its impact on alcohol sales. The researchers found that within two years of medicinal cannabis becoming legal, there was a 13% drop in beer and wine sales!

Keep in mind that researchers studied states where medicinal cannabis was legal. If recreational use was allowed, making cannabis widely available to everyone above the legal age, how big of an impact would that have on alcohol sales? It could be game changing, but at this point, nobody can say for sure.

Some studies in Canada have estimated that recreational cannabis may not have that big of an impact on alcohol sales at all, at less than 1%. But another study of cannabis consumption habits showed that the out of the Canadians who do use cannabis, 80% rarely, if ever, mix cannabis and alcohol, which suggests that the more people use cannabis, the less they will drink.

But whether alcohol sales drop less than 1% or 13% (or more), the industry has historically fought against cannabis legalization because it stands to lose a lot of money if people switch to cannabis over a can of beer.

Cannabis black market estimated at $6.2 billion by Stats Can

It’s also worth noting that Stats Canada released a report on Dec. 18 that estimated the cannabis ‘black market’ at $6.2 billion CDN in 2015. That puts cannabis right behind wine (at $7 billion) and within striking distance of beer (at $9.2 billion) if you believe there will be an increase in cannabis use come legalization.

If you can’t beat them, join them

As legalization continues to move forward all over North America, some alcohol companies are starting to realize if you can’t stop them, you might as well join them- one of the world’s largest beer companies recently invested $200 million in a Canadian cannabis company– and alcohol groups in Canada are beginning to push for cannabis marketing restrictions similar to the ones placed on alcoholic and tobacco products.


Photo credit: Greendorphin