The Alcohol Industry Must Be Frothing at the Mouth
The alcohol industry must be getting nervous especially with the most recent study that has been released. The University of Connecticut and Georgia State University compared data from the Nielsen retail scanner database of alcohol retail stores across the country after a number of states legalized marijuana this year, and found alcohol sales fell by 15%.
15% is a lot, so there is really no way that companies like Budweiser, Constellation Brands and the Boston Beer Company are not chewing their fingernails. In fact, earlier this year, Constellation Brands purchased nearly 10% of Canopy, the largest cannabis company in the world.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that marijuana availability can reduce alcohol consumption. Because experts generally agree that, on balance, alcohol use is more harmful to individuals and society than marijuana use, this would represent a significant public health benefit of marijuana legalization.
For the study, researchers examined alcohol sales data included in Nielsen’s Retail Scanner database, which includes product-level sales data from 90 retail chains across the United States. The researchers say this represents an improvement over other ways of measuring alcohol consumption — survey respondents, for instance, are known to severely lowball their alcohol consumption when asked about it by interviewers.
The researchers compared alcohol sales between states that implemented medical marijuana laws and those that didn’t, before and after the change in marijuana laws. They also corrected for a number of economic and demographic variables known to affect alcohol use, such as age, race and income.
If these findings are correct, it’s likely that they understate the effect of full marijuana legalization on alcohol use. Under medical marijuana laws, only a small handful of people are legally able to access the drug — patients wishing to use it must typically obtain a recommendation from a doctor, and in most states only certain conditions are eligible for treatment with marijuana. Full recreational legalization, as is the case now in Colorado and seven other states, means that any individual can purchase pot on demand.
There are many people that believe marijuana is the healthier choice of the two intoxicants. Do you think that the country is going to become overall healthier with the legalization of marijuana?