Medical marijuana took a bite out of alcohol sales. Recreational pot could take an even bigger one.
Published on Dec 6, 2017
Since medical marijuana laws have been put into place, many states have experienced a drop in alcohol sales. This is positive news as studies have shown that alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis on several levels. Excessive alcohol use kills around 90,000 people in the United States every year, while there are still no deaths associated with too much cannabis. In medical marijuana states, though cannabis may be available with a doctors recommendation, only a small percentage of the population qualifies and has access to it. Alcohol sales could drop more dramatically once recreational cannabis becomes more available as any adult could instead substitute cannabis as a safer alternative.
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.
“We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes” for each other, the study concludes. “Counties located in [medical marijuana] states reduced monthly alcohol sales by 15 percent” after the introduction of medical marijuana laws.