Can Legal Pot Reduce Recreational Drinking?

Can Legal Pot Reduce Recreational Drinking?

In February, Molson Coors released a statement considering legal weed a “significant risk” to the beer industry. A few months later, has there been a definitive impact on drinking habits in states with legal recreational pot? Let’s take a look.

Headquartered in Denver and Montreal, Molson Coors was the first big beer company to speak out on the worries of competition from recreational weed sales. In a filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, officials wrote:

“Although the ultimate impact is currently unknown, the emergence of legal cannabis in certain U.S. states and Canada may result in a shift of discretionary income away from our products or a change in consumer preferences away from beer. As a result, a shift in consumer preferences away from our products or beer or a decline in the consumption of our products could result in a material adverse effect on our business and financial results.”

The Battle For Budget

The filing by Molson Coors hits on a very interesting point — are recreational drinkers more likely to be recreational marijuana users? If so, how will competition for disposable income impact the liquor and beer industry?

Thanks to data from the State of Oregon, we’ve gotten a brief glimpse.

Looking at two groups of cities in Oregon — those with an operating recreational dispensary and those which had none — from Summer 2016 to Summer 2017, researchers found interesting trends in hard liquor sales. In cities with a dispensary, liquor sales grew by 4.17 percent, while sales grew by 5.86 percent in cities without a dispensary.

A Look Ahead

The results from the Oregon study need to be taken with a grain of salt due the limited availability of data and the focus on head liquor sales. Even still, the findings point to the potential for legal weed to disrupt existing beer, wine, and spirits sales across the country.

Only time will tell if this trend will continue, but it will definitely be interesting to see as the recreational weed market continues to grow.

Given the choice, would you rather spend your money on weed or beer? Let us know!