A new joint study conducted by researchers from two American universities and one university in Lima, Peru found that a decrease in alcohol consumption appears to be directly related to the rise of legal medical cannabis.
Researchers made use of the available data from the Nielsen Retail Scanner alcohol sales data from 90 alcohol chain stores—grocery, convenience, drug and mass distribution stores—from 2006-2015. Using the 90 chain stores data, the study compared alcohol sales of states with legal medical cannabis to states that don’t have legal medical cannabis both before and after the legalization laws were implemented. The research also looked at other demographic and economic factors (age, race and income) as those areas have an impact on alcohol consumption as well. Over the 10 years that were studied, counties in states with legal medical cannabis showed that monthly alcohol sales drop almost 15 percent.
With these results, the study offers insight into how the alcohol industry is expected to perform as more states begin implementing legalized medical cannabis and legalized recreational cannabis. The conclusion of the study noted that cannabis is a useful substitute for alcohol consumption, and that both substances share the same audience.
Other studies have shown a link between legalized cannabis and a corresponding drop in alcohol sales, with a study from 2016 finding that beer sales were falling in states with legalized recreational cannabis, with domestic producers “collectively underperforming” over the past few years in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
Some alcohol companies have taken a different approach to dropping alcohol sales. Constellation Brands, the company behind Corona beer and Robert Mondavi Wines, have already considered cannabis-infused drinks. Californian beer brewery, the Lagunitas Beer Company, created a cannabis-infused beer that went on sale last summer.