Alcohol Sales Show Steady Decline in States  With Medical Cannabis Programs

Alcohol sales have taken a hit in states with medical marijuana laws, according to a working paper by researchers at the University of Connecticut and George State University.

Researchers examined the relationship between medical marijuana laws and alcohol sales in 2,000 U.S. counties between 2006 and 2015.

After comparing alcohol sales in states with and without medical marijuana laws, researchers found that counties located in medical marijuana states experienced an average decrease in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

“We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes,” wrote the researchers.

“States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

These findings echo those of previous studies. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington found that retail sales “collectively underperformed” following adult use cannabis regulation.

This may partly explain why a growing number of alcohol manufacturers are eyeing expansion into the cannabis industry.

In October, Constellation Brands Inc. – the U.S. distributor of Corona beer – announced its plans to create a cannabis-infused beverage with Canopy Growth Corp. And earlier this year, Lagunitas (which is owned by Heineken) test-launched its own brand of cannabis-infused beers.

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