Study: 27% of U.S. beer drinkers switching to weed

A new study shows that Americans are increasingly opting for pot bellies over beer bellies.

Roughly one in four of 40,000 surveyed Americans are now spending their cash on cannabis instead of suds, researchers from Cannabiz Consumer Group found. Twenty-seven percent of beer drinkers are now legally purchasing pot instead, or suggested they would if it were legalized in their state. The research group last year.

Those purchases will take many forms, infused beverages among them. If cannabis were legalized nationally, the beer industry would lose more than $2 USD billion in retail sales.

About 24.6 million Americans legally purchased pot in the U.S. last year and that number is expected to grow. Numerous states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and a smaller number of states have legalized it for recreational use. Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada all passed measures to legalize recreational use in 2016, and more than half of U.S. states now permit the medical use of marijuana. The Department of Justice under the Obama Administration also relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it is legal, but the Trump Administration may reverse that trend.

Still, the group predicts the cannabis industry will grow to $50 billion. The U.S. beer market sells over $100 billion in beer each year, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.