Legalizing Marijuana in All 50 States Could Cut 7% of Beer Sales

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One of the unintended side effects (probably) of legalizing marijuana for recreational use could be a drop of 7.1% in retail sales of beer, or about $2 billion, according to the Cannabiz Consumer Group. In states where recreational use is already legal, 27% of beer drinkers claim they have already substituted (or would substitute if it were legal to do so where they live) cannabis for beer.

Or, for those looking for a healthier brew, there are beers currently available that are infused with cannabidiol but not the psychoactive ingredient THC that produces a pot-user’s high. Last October the U.S. Food and Drug Administration even approved the cannabis-infused beers for national distribution.

The cannabinoids in the infused beer are “an antioxidant and neuro-protectant that have a lot of health benefits,” Denver brewery Dad and Dudes’ co-owner Mason Hembree told Men’s Journal last year.

Cannabiz Consumer Group said there are 24.6 million legal cannabis consumers in the United States and that a fully legal market for marijuana would create a new $50 billion industry. The firm’s chief innovation officer, Rich Maturo, had some suggestions for the alcohol sellers:

Those at risk of losing sales to legalized cannabis can undertake a variety of actions to offset their losses. Consumers use cannabis to satisfy various … social, medical and experiential need states. By understanding these needs, those at risk of losing sales to cannabis can try to offset some of the losses by understanding and speaking to a consumer’s needs. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that leakage will occur. Those companies that are gathering insights on cannabis and have the foresight to see it as presenting an opportunity in addition to a risk will fare much better than those who strictly take a defensive position.

Earlier research disputes the idea that cannabis will displace beer sales. In Colorado, tax revenues from alcohol have been rising steadily since 2011 (recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2012), and in Washington state, tax revenue from alcohol sales has risen by $1.5 million between 2014 and 2016.