As the government gets ready to sell cannabis come July, analysts are forecasting that the new product could actually eclipse alcohol use in time.

Pot in, booze out? Maybe. As the LCBO is getting ready to sell cannabis come July, analysts are forecasting that the new product could actually eclipse alcohol use in time.

One consulting firm estimated that the legalization of marijuana could sap $160 million out of the country’s $22.1 billion alcohol sector (!) The Canadian beer market, which is worth around $9.2 billion, is anticipated to take a $70-million hit from in the first year of marijuana legalization. Pretty significant, considering this industry has played a pretty major role in defining our cultural narratives when it comes to holidays and celebrations (nothing’s ‘more Canadian’ than beer and a dock / grill / national park, etc. etc., right?)

Why, exactly, does legalization have to mean booze sales take a hit? Can’t the two just co-exist in peace? 

Well for one thing, research shows that people tend to drink less overall, when they smoke pot. According to Vivien Azer, a beverage, tobacco and cannabis analyst, “about 80% of consumers do report some kind of reduction in alcohol consumption when they’re also engaging in cannabis consumption.” And this can be seen on a larger scale, too: “Binge drinking rates, for instance, are significantly lower in US states where adults have access to adult-use cannabis,” she told Fast Money. So a more accepting attitude toward pot, and more people casually using it, could see a widespread dampening of our tastes for booze.

Also, there’s the likelihood that the availability of both substances, legal and at our fingertips, means we feel less inclined to go crazy overboard on one (hence, the finding of less binge-drinking in states where pot is legal). So as we become attuned to less-stigma around pot in Canada, our relationship with both substances – pot and booze, will likely become healthier. Which is great for our longevity… but not so much for alcohol sales.

Regardless of the crazy growth of the cannabis industry, the demand for alcohol in general appears to be on a steady decline in Ontario. Just under 82% of young adults in Ontario (ie – the ‘leading consumers of tomorrow,’) consumed alcohol in 2015 – a 5.5% drop since 2008, while their marijuana use has remained consistent. In other words, your love affair with Mary Jane appears to be more sustainable than Jack. Is it time for booze to booze to make it’s graceful and natural exit from our every day lives? Could 4:20 be the new happy hour? 

How legalization will affect our overall consumption preferences remains to be seen, but in the meantime, there’s plenty of room for both booze and weed in our heart. In fact, anyone else see an opportunity for the two to combine forces and blow everyones’ mind? Canna-beer anyone? 

Categories: CANNABIS