For years, that the alcohol industry has been lobbying to prevent cannabis from emerging out of the black market in fear that legalization would shred their bottom line. Now, evidence proves that the two industries are actually not competing with one another in states where both products are legal.
In Colorado, where recreational cannabis has now been thriving for over the past year and a half, tax documents indicate that the sale of beer, wine and spirits have increased significantly throughout this time. Records from the Colorado Department of Revenue show that when the cannabis market experienced an increase in tax revenue, so did those businesses slinging booze. This trend, of course, clearly shows that the alcohol industry was wrong when they argued, “consumer preferences and purchases may shift” with the advent of marijuana legalization.
All of the concerns surrounding the battle between alcohol and cannabis stems from a myriad of influences, including research suggesting that alcohol could be replaced by marijuana if it were to become legal. One study suggested that booze sales were at risk of plummeting in medical marijuana states, because 41 percent of the patients surveyed said they smoked pot as a replacement for alcohol. Another study claimed that Colorado’s alcohol market was “smart to worry about” legal cannabis taking over their customer base, even though brew houses said marijuana was not hurting them.
As foolish as it may sound, there really has been a war going on between the alcohol and cannabis industry in hopes that one will gain control over the other. Some booze marketers have even gone as far as to contribute to campaigns supported by groups that have made it their mission to prevent legalization.
Meanwhile, cannabis advocates are constantly smearing anything related to alcohol in an effort to gain support points for the cause. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is well known for their attempts at showing the population that smoking weed is “safer” than alcohol and that should be “regulated like beer.” Although there is a great deal of truth in MPP’s argument, the brewing industry has been known to lash out against these claims, arguing that the two inebriants are a completely different “product” and “industry” and that the MPP’s assertions are somewhat misleading.
Nevertheless, there is speculation that alcohol and cannabis are thriving simultaneously in Colorado because of the inflated level of tourism. Records show that over 71 million people traveled into the state in 2014, spending around $19 billion. Of course, regardless if these tourists journeyed into Colorado solely to experience the novelty of buying legal cannabis for the first time, many of them still frequented bars, nightclubs and restaurants during their visit – providing a boost to alcohol sellers as well as stimulating the newfound cannabis trade.
With this in consideration, it is conceivable that as more states continue to legalize the leaf, the alcohol trade will continue to flourish in those areas. There may even come a day when the two industries come together and occupy the same space to provide customers with both products. The truth is most people who prefer marijuana to alcohol are always going to pick weed over beer, despite its legal status. In contrast, those people who prefer beer are not going to replace their sudsy beverage with cannabis just because it has been legalized. Therefore, it is of my opinion that both industries should drop their feuding paranoia and learn how to work together in the interest of buzzed America.
Do you think legal cannabis threatens the alcohol industry? Share your opinion in the comments.