Legal Cannabis Keeps Punching Alcohol in the Neck
The availability of marijuana is causing binge drinking rates to drop.
Getting liquored up and diving head first into the mean seas of debauchery has been the American way for the better part of a century. The population, in all of its suds-sucking, whiskey-soaked glory, has leaned on booze in the good times and the bad, floating celebrations down the proverbial river of whoop-de-doo and straight over the falls into a cesspool of misery, hangovers and self-loathing. You’re damn, right! But the generations-of-the-now have begun to figure out that trying to dig themselves out of the vomit every morning after a depraved pursuit of happiness is not all that it’s cracked up to be. So, they have taken it upon themselves to sober up a little. But to live in a world where the straight world is all we see is lunacy fit only for the criminally insane. It’s like, if we, as humans, cannot find some kind of escape from the grind of daily life that doesn’t cripple our bodies, wilt our minds and send us shooting straight out the gutter of despair and early onset dementia, then what in God’s green earth are we even doing here, am I right?
Fortunately, the cannabis industry has swooped in to save the day. Now, there are more younger Americans using pot instead of alcohol. Presumably, this is because many of the Millennial and Generation Z peeps were raised around alcoholic degenerates, and they want nothing to do with that life. Some reports show that alcohol consumption, specifically binge drinking, is down in some states that have legalized the leaf for recreational use. This is a savage blow to the mighty alcohol trade that could end up costing it beaucoup bucks. In fact, many booze-slingers have even started producing non-alcoholic alternatives in hopes of capturing that part of the market that seems to have gravitated toward the bong rather than the bottle. But the damage may already be done, according to Wall Street market analysts Cowen & Company.
“It is reasonable to assume that as more states continue to legalize adult-use cannabis, alcohol binge drinking rates will continue to falter,” Cowen said in a press release.
Still, the situation is not at all cut-and-dry. While there is certainly evidence that legal weed is stinging alcohol leaders, it still has a long way to go before it can be considered the reigning champion of the inebriation culture. Statistics show that California and Nevada, both of which have taxed and regulated pot markets, are still experiencing higher rates of alcohol consumption than pot use. This may have something to do with how the Golden State’s illicit pot trade is still serving more customers than the legal trade. And in the case of Nevada, lower pot use could be attributed to sales (and in many cases even use) not being permitted in casinos and brothels.
But we must give legal marijuana time to plant its seed. In the case of Colorado and Washington, two of the first states to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, alcohol consumption rates continue to decline. Just last year, 15.6% of adults in Washington said they engaged in binge drinking at some point over the course of a month. Meanwhile, the national average ranks in at around 17.4%. But, once again, it’s not the younger generations that are pushing the stats into cirrhosis of the liver. The binge drinkers out there tipsying up the scales are older Americans and seniors, according to the New York Times.
Interestingly, in Canada, where marijuana has been legal at the national level for the past year, alcohol rates are still pretty much unchanged. “Canadian provinces with the highest rates of legal cannabis consumption don’t appear to be drinking less under legalization,” Cowen said in its release. The reason for this, according to Brock University professor Michael Armstrong, is because the people of the northern nation need to be able to drink their THC and not smoke it.
“Having beverages that are based on water-soluble THC would better drive the marketplace forward,” he said.
There might be some truth in the power of THC-infused beverages, Cowen said, but flower is still expected to be the market’s best seller. All one has to do is take a look at the country’s still-thriving black market – 79% of pot sales are done in the streets – to see that is true. The trick will be getting those people to start spending their money in cannabis dispensaries. Perhaps the edibles sector, which is just starting to get underway, will help with the transition. It’s still difficult, though, to see Canadians giving up the bottle with too much enthusiasm. Six million are binge drinking at least once a month, Statistics Canada reports.
TELL US, has enjoying cannabis lead you to drink less?