Notably, and as of recently, the cannabis industry is deemed as directly correlated with alcohol consumption decline – particularly in the US. Statistics reveal that legal adult-use cannabis in US states saw binge drinking rates fall below the national average, and below that of non-cannabis states.
Interestingly enough, during the same period (the past 3 years) newly added states such as Oklahoma and Nevada had higher rates of alcohol consumption with lower rates of cannabis use.
Regardless of which perspective one takes, it is expected by experts that the rate is about to shift in both alcohol and cannabis consumption in those states.
As a result of the foregoing, we find it reasonable to assume that as more states continue to legalize adult-use cannabis, alcohol binge drinking rates will continue to decline. This article takes a closer look at how this revelation came to be and what the implications are down the road.
Stats Reveal Alcohol Consumption is Falling
How is cannabis use linked to less alcohol consumption? Under the spotlight is two studies that look at the effects of cannabis legalization on college students’ recreational habits. They each reveal, respectively, that the increased use of cannabis may and often does lead to a reduction in alcoholism.
Regarding more particular binge-drinking stats, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that generally and previously speaking, 17% of the US population engaged in binge drinking.
In states that legalized adult-use cannabis, however, the number of binge drinking sessions per month turned out to be 9% below the national average.
For instance, the state of Washington (where cannabis has been legalized for a few years) has seen alcohol consumption rates decline over the past several years.
As of 2018, Washington reported that around 15% of adults reported having four or more drinks on one occasion in the past month – compared to the national average of 17.4%.
How Legalization Affects Cannabis vs Alcohol Consumption
How exactly does legalization bare on cannabis consumption in comparison to alcohol? The Addiction study was conducted by several minds in response to this question, from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, along with David Kerr of the College of Liberal Arts.
The first study to look at the effects of recreational legalization in multiple states gathered survey data from over 850,000 students who self-reported their cannabis use. The researchers analyzed data from students aged between 18 and 26 who had attended college in any of the states that had legalized recreational use by 2018.
The analysis included responses from students at 135 colleges in states with legalization and 454 colleges in states without it. The students had submitted responses between 2008 and 2018. The next group to analyze would be millennials.
Millennials Prefer Cannabis over Alcohol
According to a MarketWatch article, a millennial confessed to prefer the use of cannabis over alcohol because it saves money and doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects of alcohol. And, according to a Yahoo News poll in 2017, it was concluded that the majority of the 55 million marijuana users in the US are millennials.
Simultaneously, as the number of alcohol drinking rates decrease, the cannabis industry is expected to benefit even more as users choose cannabis substitutes. While the US is undoubtedly experiencing declining rates of alcohol consumption, Canada seems to be lagging in this department.
Canadian provinces with access to legal cannabis consumption don’t appear to be drinking less.
Brock University business professor Michael Armstrong notes that the reason alcohol consumption is still relatively high in Canada, is because consumers are used to the characteristics associated with drinking. Thus, having beverages that are based on water-soluble THC would certainly drive the marketplace forward.
With the above said, many consumers (will) still prefer the cannabis flower, THC and CBD extracts and concentrates as opposed to cannabis-based drinks.
According to Statistics Canada, 5.3 million or 18% of Canadians ages 15 years and older reported using cannabis in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 14% who reported using just one year earlier.
Market-wise, while cannabis-infused beverages are expected to be a large market driver in the near future, the flower segment is still projected to account for the majority of the market. And speaking of which, we are prompted to investigate the effect of legalization on the use of other substances, followingly.
The Effect on Other Substances
Using the same data as the first study, Ph.D. candidates analyzed the effects of amplified cannabis use on that of other recreational substances popular among college students. This study exceeds those that show how to prove the case of cannabis use linked to less alcohol consumption.
For the NCHA survey, students reported any nicotine use, binge drinking, use of illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription stimulants, sedatives, and opioids. The study’s authors found that increased cannabis use had a minor impact on the consumption of other drugs, with two exceptions: alcohol and sedative abuse.
In states with legalized recreational use, a greater reduction in binge drinking among students aged 21 and over was observed. This, compared with similarly aged students in other states. However, in these same states with legalization, an increase in sedative abuse among students younger than 21 was also noted.
Conclusions on Cannabis Use Linked to Less Alcohol Consumption
This article aims to show the validity of the claim that cannabis linked to alcohol consumption has been proven succesfully. Important to note is that further research into the details of the relationship between alcohol vs cannabis consumption is needed to increase the evidence base.
Still, we may safely conclude that based on the research done thus far, the rise of cannabis is indeed directly correlated with declining alcohol consumption rates in the US.