Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization

personal_cultivationSales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … 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.”

Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

0 thoughts

    1. As an active recovering alcoholic I wish the would criminalize alcohol consumption as is the case with cannabis is here in Oklahoma because of its harmfulness to who become alcoholic about 1 third and decriminalize cannabis

      1. We tried that a century ago and it created Al Capone. All food and drugs must be fairly taxed and regulated or black markets are formed that corrupt our governments.

    2. Practically everything is safer than alcohol, with the possible exception of tobacco.

      Heroin is safer than alcohol. Prescription opiates are MUCH safer than alcohol.

      Cannabis is safer than opiates for most people (the exception is people with genes predisposing them to schizophrenia, who are strongly contraindicated from cannabis)

    3. I know lot’s of people that started drinking heavily after employment UA”S were implemented. If the ones in charge knew how many people smoked in the 80’s (even at work) with no problems they would have to change their underwear.

  1. No surprise to me that people use less alcohol or quit altogether when given the option to legally use cannabis! If not for cannabis I am quite sure I would have a serious alcohol problem. Because of my cannabis use I have it under control.

    Those who say we don’t need another recreational drug are just plain wrong when the other recreational drug they are referring to is so much safer than what is currently available legally; i.e. tobacco and alcohol!

    1. Well put, Miles. We DO need another recreational drug! A better one! And that drug is cannabis.

    2. Alcohol and tobacco are the two MOST UNSAFE recreational drugs out there.

      It’s actually hard to think of drugs which are worse, except for sniffing glue.

      It’s really messed up that those two are the legal ones.

      But prohibition of alcohol didn’t work, and backfired. So if we have to make alcohol legal, then everything safer than alcohol should be legal. Which is practically everything.

      1. People who drink alcohol regularly become *violent* and *attack other people*. While this isn’t everyone who drinks alcohol, I’m hard pressed to find another drug which *routinely* causes users to commit acts of violence.


  3. Sales “Underperformed?” To my ear, the word suggests a sense of entitlement.

    There’s the corporation, and then there’s the customer. You have to ask: “Who’s here to serve who?”

    I’ve had turned upside down my naive beliefs about the nature of our social contracts with the institutions in our society. As the Republican tax heist in Congress illustrates, Corporations, and their puppets in Congress, don’t give a flying fuck about ordinary people, except as a class of suckers to be exploited in every way possible.

    Ever hear the phrase “Consumer choice?” Okay, let’s do that! Let’s legalize marijuana!

    1. Marijuana is definitely helping alcoholics drink less or quit drinking altogether, including here in New Orleans. Marijuana is safer than alcohol for everyone, but especially if you are an alcoholic. There is a book by an alcoholic who quit drinking using marijuana – called The Pot Plan – available at Google Books –

      If every alcoholic gave up drinking for weed this world would be a safer place.

      1. @ saferinneworleans,
        Well, I agree with you on that point.
        It’s just a shame and a tragedy that so many damn fools (like you, by your own admission) continue to support Trump and Sessions, who oppose all drugs, and are ramping up the Drug War again, even as we speak. So, despite the noble sentiments you express, you’re really of no help whatsoever!
        In other words, Fuck Trump.
        Wouldn’t you agree?

      2. CJ,
        Giving you the benefit of the doubt, Ol “Safer” has defended Trump and his policies on previous posts.

  4. Call it substitute if you want but cannabis has therapeutic results. Cannabis has no toxicity level. Govt has no business regulating cannabis.

  5. I have used marijuana to moderate my alcohol consumption my entire adult life. Here is what the results are:

    I consume less alcohol privately when I have access to marijuana. Because marijuana is illegal in my state of Texas, or because their are children in social gatherings (and I don’t like vaping, I enjoy smoking marijuana), I tend to consume more alcohol in social gatherings.

    And it’s really that simple. If I had no access to marijuana for long periods of time I suppose I would drink too much. But with good, whole plant marijuana in my life I find myself searching for less, better quality beer. Goodbye Natural Light. Hello Craft brewed blonde ale. The better the weed, the better the beer; and I require less of it to achieve relaxation.

    The alcohol industry has long caused marijuana legalization grief and political trouble, but thats changing. During last year’s elections we laughed as the liquor board in Nevada tried to delay and reduce supplies of legal mj, then got overruled by a judge and the state legislature. That marked a tipping point in the pint of power.

    Now big alcohol is saying “If you can’t beat’m, join’m,” as marijuana infused alcoholic beverages are being marketed as we write. To that, I say “Salud.” I may not drink marijuana that often, but when I do, it better not be a fruity wine cooler.

    1. Back in my youth I used to experiment with both. Spirits, ales, malt liquors, it didn’t matter. If I could afford it, down the hatch it went. Now that I grew up and matured a bit, I don’t drink or smoke by choice. Smoking reminds me of being horribly sick, but I used to love the feeling of euphoria. Now I can’t stand it.

      1. @ Anonymous1,

        But you made that choice for yourself, in either case. And you should indeed have that freedom, the freedom to decide for yourself what does, and what doesn’t, go into your own body.

        To your credit, in your comment, you never suggested that other people should not smoke pot just because you yourself decided to quit.

        And that in turn suggests that you understand that the very same freedom to choose which you enjoyed should also extend to others.

        But that cannot happen under marijuana prohibition. No one should be arrested for making either of the choices you made.

        Legalize it!

      2. I was a hard-core drinker for over 20 years, ages 16 through my late 30s, and in my later teens began toking as well. I’ve mentioned it here before, that I must’ve been allergic to alcohol because my hangovers were always worse than everyone else’s and my headaches just got worse with each year. It finally got the point where my headaches would begin while I was still drinking.

        So, since I do no other drugs, pot has been a godsend for me. I love its effects, love its mood-enhancing, etc.

        Alcohol helped me a lot in social situations; and I always loved the taste of beer. Other than that, I don’t miss alcohol at all. Besides, I don’t do any more of the stupid things I used to do when I was drunk.

      3. I quit drinking in 1991. And it was a profound insight for me when I realized a concept that I got from AA, which was that my physical response to alcohol in my system was similar to an allergy.

        I can no more control my response to alcohol after drinking, than can a person allergic to strawberries stop the hives and welts after eating strawberries.

        What this means, when you understand it fully, is that all the horrible things I said and did while drinking, while they were still my blame and my responsibility, they were not, as they might appear to be to everybody including myself, a reflection of a low moral character, or a weakness of willpower.

        It’s not my fault, in other words, that I inherited this biological response to alcohol. But it is still my problem. It is still my responsibility. That may not be fair, but it is true.

        I don’t drink. If I was allergic to strawberries, I wouldn’t eat those, either. But since alcohol is considered a social norm in USA, those who don’t drink, or who cannot control their drinking, are viewed as moral defectives.

        That used to bother me; but now that I understand that alcohol affects me like an allergy, I no longer give a shit about what other folks think about my choices. I don’t need the approval of the clueless. I try to educate them, instead.

      4. It took me years to realize I was probably allergic to alcohol. When I learned afterwards that my mother and one of her brothers similarly got bad headaches when they drank, it confirmed my suspicions. Got an anti-alcohol gene in there.

    2. Thanks for bringing up the MICRODOSE issue– “less, better quality beer”. An affirmative microdose law could take the form of requiring any retailer who sells any alcohol to provide– and advertise– a 2-ounce airliner-bottle version of each beverage, yes, even beer, even wine. Carry it in your pocket, when warranted take a sip, swish it around magnificently before swallowing.
      True, this leads to mentioning the microdose version of cannabis– flexdrawtube oneheater with 1/4-inch-diameter screened socketwrench crater for 25-mgt sifted her4b loadings.
      “I don’t like vaping, I enjoy smoking marijuana…”
      Rest easy, the flex oneheater is a hybrid utensil! Let the budload start glowing a few seconds later, after heatbathing has liberated most of the cannabinoid treasure in vapor form, and get that delicious cellulose taste reminder you enjoy (also don’t forget to poke the ashes with your two-inch safety-pinmaintenance-utensil, suck them out and deliciously grind with tongue against palate.

      1. Mexweed is right. If you care about your health at all, QUIT TOBACCO! Do it NOW. It is THE WORST DRUG OF ALL.

        Leave it behind. I promise you, solemnly and personally, you will not regret it!!

      2. (This reply is in error, and was intended for Mexweed’s comments about tobacco, below.)

        Essentially, Tobacco: very bad for you. Cannabis: very good for good.

    3. I feel similar Julian. My alcohol consumption plummets like a rock off a cliff. I much prefer it this way, especially as my work tends to require a clear head, which is something I just don’t have when I drink.

      I think given a choice between the two, more often than not, folks will steer clear of the liquor cabinet and apparently we now have the numbers to prove it.

  6. It seems like the Republican majority congress (The GOP) places more importance on money than they do on the Americans they are supposed to represent. I am sure that wealthy donors want their puppets to keep cannabis illegal since it would affect their profits. These donors would include the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, private prisons, law enforcement, and drug testing companies.

    It is because the Republicans (the majority of them), and maybe some Democrats, have basically chosen getting more dollars over the welfare of America and it’s citizens.

    I would say it is time to drain the swamp which is what Trump said he would do and maybe he did because the group of people he has around him seem to be from the bottom of it! Good ol’ boy Jeffrey Sessions is a perfect example of finding a piece of filth at the bottom of that swamp.

    1. GOPers have unabashedly chosen their corporate bosses over everyone else–even in the matter of MJ legalization. Corporate Dems are nearly as bad–and must be weeded out of the party.

    1. It’s reefer-madness standard operating procedure to blame marijuana use for the harmful effects and results of alcohol use. (Or other drugs.)

      This has been an issue with respect to cannabis clubs in Denver. (Which were approved by the voters a long time ago, and I am still waiting, by the way. WTF?) The question: should cannabis clubs serve alcohol? Many, including myself, say “no.” We don’t want the problems that come with a bar, and we don’t want the political blame and scapegoating, for those problems.

      Politically speaking, I would be wary of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, for the same reason.

      1. The Number #1 harmful drug whose/whats effects are routinely blamed on marijuana– and on tobacckgo too– is… ready?– CARBON MONOXIDE as presented* in paper-wrapped hot burning overdose format–witness “colloquial” stereotype labels “dope”, “pot” etc.
        Compromise solution: permit alcohol at cannabis club but ONLY in microdose airliner bottle format, one per customer. Permit $moking but only in 25-mg-serving-size oneheaters (and lots of illustrated posters informing how to Vape therewith instead of $moke– Easy-Learn, Heat-not-Burn Vapetoke Technique).
        *It was known by the ’70’s that “sidestream smoke” (directly into air instead of mainstream or second-hand) contains 5 times as much monoxide as mainstream (inhaled from butt end or filter tip).

      2. Mexweed is right! (I am in error, I just put my reply on the wrong comment, above. See above comment regarding tobacco: AND QUIT TOBACCO!)

  7. Not suprising! I will admit if marijuana was legal in Indiana I would much rather smoke than drink. It relieves my anxiety much better without all the side effects of alcohol. Not to mention no hang over and does not worsen my depression like alcohol, but instead helps it fade away! Cannot wait for Mary Jane to be legal here !!

  8. It’s A Wonderful Life. Pot can put a smile on your face and be happy during this seasonal holidays.

  9. While the Washington v. Sessions case develops:

    Cases to legalize or decriminalize marijuana in other nations are developing:

    The former soviet nation of Georgia decriminalizing cannabis is a bigger deal than we might realize. While the case involved ending smoked marijuana arrests, a hemp economy in one of the world’s oldest hemp civilizations could be an even greater catalyst for world legalization economically than the freedom of the man who took his weed to court.. but it all begins with freedom.

  10. They’re becoming enlightened, even in Georgia! Seems the dominoes are slowly falling around the world.


    California is working overtime to get Los Angeles ready to “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” so they dont end up like San Francisco. Although SF completed its regs, it will not be ready for business Jan. 1st. A small delay, in my humble opinion, for inevitable revenue and legalization.

    With Friday’s deadline on extending the Rohrabacher Blumenauer amendment to prevent Federal funds to crackdown on mmj from reaching AG Sessions before Mueller can indict him for failing to notify authorities of a felony, Cali is going to need to get real creative on deliveries in the meantime.

    These next few days of our activism to legalize marijuana from state to federal legislatures is the tipping point for prohibition to legalization worldwide. Please click on the ACT tab and contact your reps today.

    The stakes are high, and so are we.

  12. If marijuana were truly regulated like alcohol, some have suggested that cannabis should, or would, be regulated by the AFT (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.)

    But, as reported by Alternet: Authorities in Pennsylvania and Hawaii have spoken out last week, declaring that people who have medical marijuana licenses in those states will need to give up access to firearms.

    The decisions are tied to a 50-year-old law, which was upheld in a Supreme Court ruling last year.

    “The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone from possessing guns if they use or are addicted to cannabis,” Christopher Morales, a California criminal defense attorney, told Leafly. The law forbids people who use federally restricted substances from owning firearms, even if the substances they use are legal in the state that they reside in.
    (That is the end of the Alternet excerpt.)

    Now, personally and candidly, and in the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I loathe guns, and find the NRA repugnant. But arguments for Freedom go a long way with me, as do arguments for self-defense. But what of marijuana?

    For me, the choice between guns and pot is easy — I choose pot, thank you very much.

    But I ask you to consider the pot-smoking, gun-owners’ dilemna. They are, in effect, being forced to choose between their gun and their weed. Let’s assume they think that is an unfair and unreasonable choice; further, let’s assume they become politically active. Question: which is the better argument for freedom, a) more gun freedoms, or b) more marijuana freedoms?

    I say, since marijuana is extremely safe, and guns extremely unsafe, that therefore the answer is “b.” Logically, ALL gun owners should be against marijuana prohibition.

    Yet, the gun lobby opposes the cannabis lobby. Why?

    1. Knowing what I know about the safety and medical efficacy of cannabis, if I were a gun owner, or if I decided to become a gun owner, I would tend to view efforts to disarm medical marijuana patients as a direct result of marijuana prohibition and reefer madness, as opposed to a legitimate gun control measure aimed at curbing violence.

      1. In other words, The Gun Control Act Of 1968, like many other laws, is deceptively titled. (Think “Clean Air Act” which promotes pollution.) It’s not about gun control; rather, it’s about marijuana prohibition. This is true because the law is premised on bogus, reefer-madness assumptions about cannabis use.

      2. And further, because of the fact that drug prohibition promotes violence, (be that drug alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug) the effect of the marijuana-prohibition-law-disguised-as-a-gun-control-law is likely to INCREASE VIOLENCE, exactly the opposite of what gun control advocates want.

        Gun control advocates and marijuana legalization advocates both want the same thing, in general: a safer, saner society.

        We should be on the same side, I would have thought.

        Okay. I’m out!

      3. Drain Bamage,
        You kinda answered your own question over why the NRA stays hypocritically silent over gun rights for the many Americans that consume marijuana; Part of the reason is the ATF is a beaurocracy out of the Dep. of the Treasury with very little oversight from the DOJ. Another reason, as you mentioned is that federal courts continue to uphold the law, but primarily the portion of the CSAct that prevent anyone in possession of a schedule 1 substance to have a firearm. The NRA was nowhere to be found in these recent court battles. Part of that reason is that law enforcement are some of the arms industry’s best customers. And the ATF, by way of little known laws that allow them unconstitutional authority to disclose (or not) the serial numbers of any weapons sold in the United States, effectively making the ATF the premeir arms cartel brokers of the world. Remember it was a “sting” Fast & Furious operation by the ATF that sold all those weapons to El Chapo Guzman. Thousands of innocent immigrants were killed through extortion and violence. Only after a DEA agent was killed was the entire operation brought to light. But this activity plays itself out repeatedly, and the Trump administration would like to privatize these weapon sales into a private CIA under Eric Prince, aka, the Prince of Darkness of Blackwater.

        Bottom line is the NRA represents the interests of gun sales, not the second amendment. Theyre phony, and cannot be trusted to help marijuana activists with their gun rights, only called out for the hypocrites they are.

      4. Dain,

        I know you’re a good guy, but it seems you and I disagree on the gun issue. While I personally don’t like the idea of connecting MMJ to gun ownership, I do believe that Hawaii has the right to make its laws.

        Also, I don’t equate the 2nd Amendment with protecting us from internal tyranny. We are assured that that is what we need by 2nd Amend advocates. And I once had a 2nd Amender tell me that the only thing standing between me and tyranny was the 2nd Amendment.

        Funny, we have a guy in the White House right now who is acting very tyrannical and it seems the 2nd Amendment has done nothing to curtail him.

        Also, it’s interesting that 2nd Amendment advocates believe the only thing saving us from internal tyranny is the 2nd Amendment, but history shows us that many tyrants were overthrown without a 2nd Amendment, the Chinese, French and Russian Revolutions among them.

        Sorry, I just don’t buy the argument that the 2nd Amendment is protecting us from tyrants. What the NRA–its lobbying money–is doing us is ensuring us of near-weekly slaughters. The NRA, as an organization has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t really give a crap about gun violence in our society.

        Also, if it were an honest organization, it wouldn’t hammer home a false message on a regular basis, and that is that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. period. No. The 2nd Amendment says:

        (cont . . . )

      5. Dain,

        As a postscript, I just wanna add that I actually misread your original post on this issue, so my apologies if I misrepresented what you said. (I suffer from a bit of A.D.D. and have a tendency sometimes to skim over comments too quickly.)

      6. (cont . . . )

        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

        That’s it, that’s the 2nd Amendment. The opening two clauses are clear: A WELL REGULATED MILITIA, BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE . . . ”

        Those opening clauses are crucial, and cannot be ignored as if they don’t exist. The Amendment is saying the right to bear arms is necessary in order to sustain a WELL REGULATED MILITIA. I own a gun, and I don’t belong to a militia. I suspect a tiny percentage of gun owners do belong to militias. So, if we’re to take that Amendment literally, then every gun owner who does not belong to a well regulated militia is not covered by that Amendment. Says so right there in black and white.

        That of course can be regarded as a ridiculous requisite for owning a gun, but if the NRA wants to use that Amendment to push guns on society, then it should at least be honest and admit that it’s distorting the original meaning of the Amendment.

        As I say, I’m a gun owner, and stand to inherit a few more in the coming years. But I believe the Amendment has been distorted not only by the NRA, but by its members as well.

      7. @ Evening Bud,
        No worries.
        And, actually, I completely agree with you regarding my/your second amendment rights, and the NRA.
        But it’s hypothetical for me. I am not a gun owner, nor am I interested in becoming one. But if I did, I wouldn’t want my second amendment rights taken away from me by reefer madness.

      8. Dain,

        I actually agree with you in regards to guns and Reefer Madness policies. However, in light of the semi-regular gun slaughters that we’re currently enduring in our country, I feel compelled to play the Devil’s advocate. And I’ll never support an industry that is hell bent on flooding our streets with military-grade weapons.

  13. Last summer I went to Colorado. I went to some of the bars I used to frequent in the Boulder Denver area. The bar tenders all said that their business was higher than usual since cannabis has been legal. That said, they also said that the music and entertainment determines the amount of people that go to their establishments. The liquor store owners said that their sales have been the same, since legalization, but they thought it was because of the FUI enforcement, and more of their customers prefer to drink at home and with friends.

  14. Jeff Sessions is at it again. In this video he says that last year vehicle accidents in which illegal drugs were involved exceeded accidents in which alcohol was involved. It sounds like he’s lumping cannabis in with ALL illegal drugs AGAIN.

    Furthermore, he’s being a total condescending jerk to the intern, like he is such an authority cannabis, cherry-picking the Kevin Sabet shit.

    1. @ TheOracle,

      Yes, Sessions speaks of “drugs” (by which he meant cannabis) and “alcohol” (by which he meant a thing perfectly legal and socially acceptable) as if they were two different things, which is, of course, classic reefer-madness duplicity.

      This duplicitous framing of the argument by the prohibitionists is meant to legitimize the hypocrisy of a war on users of some drugs, but not others. They simply have redefined the meaning of the word “drugs” to mean only certain drugs, in order to suit their corrupt political objectives.

      Of course, the term “drugs and alcohol” is a political gimmick which implies a distinction which does not exist.

      To wit, alcohol is a drug.

      And, Jefferson Peckerwood Session is lower than snakeshit. No wait, he’s like the bacteria in the snakeshit. No wait, he’s the rot that is left after the bacteria eats all the parasites in the snakeshit, and everything just dies. Snake too. Snake dies of intestinal infection three days later. Still contagious after death. I could go on, but… I think you get the point…

      1. Hey, Dain, don’t talk about rot like that! Rot is BETTER than Sessions! Rot is a natural and necessary process of life by whch bacteria and microbes regenerate the biproducts and nutrients that sustain life on our planet.
        Jeff Sessions, by contrast, is more like a tapeworm. His existence is dependent on the sustenance from people too uneducated, too poor or too sick to heal or defend themselves.
        Fortunately… (And I swear, I just looked this up on pure intuition…) cannabis is treatment for tapeworms!

        Dear God… if we hot boxed the White House for parasites there would be no one left!

      2. Hey, Dain, don’t talk about rot like that! Rot is BETTER than Sessions! Rot is a natural and necessary process of life by which bacteria and microbes regenerate the biproducts and nutrients that sustain life on our planet.

        Jeff Sessions, by contrast, is more like a tapeworm. His existence is dependent on the sustenance from people too uneducated, too poor or too sick to heal or defend themselves.

        Fortunately… (And I swear, I just looked this up on pure intuition…) cannabis is treatment for tapeworms!

        Dear God… if we hot boxed the White House for parasites there would be no one left!

    2. The cannabis community should have a nationwide party the day Jeffrey Sessions is placed into his grave; which I intend to dance on!

  15. This morning I got a painful reminder of what happens when you drink too much… I finished a bottle of wine last night and now regret it.

    I never have this problem with cannabis. Usually, I feel as good or better the next day after using cannabis.

    So, as of today, no more alcohol for me!

    1. Don,
      By all means dont let me discourage you if cutting alcohol cold turkey improves your health.
      But just in case that doesnt work, you could also try moderating the herb with the wine to drink just a glass or two. (Red wine is high in antioxidants which is good for your health). Also, try moderating a glass of cold glass of water in a taller wine glass to rinse the pallate between food and wine. Water helps prevent dehydration which causes hangovers.

      If that still gives you hangovers you may be sensitive to sulfites which are used as preservatives in wine. Only solution there is to make home made wine without sulfites in it.

      Good luck!

  16. Marijuana and alcohol are two of the most commonly used substances . In fact, a majority of the world has tried one or both at some point during their life.and as we go on in this battle for marijuana reform we learn alchol is worse than ever time for achange

  17. Well, sales of alcohol will really get affected by the legalization of cannabis. Perhaps because people are finding cannabis as far better remedy for medical conditions than the former.

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