It might sound surprising, but it is true. More people are turning to cannabis instead of alcohol to unwind at the end of the day. Cannabis is promoting relaxation and relief and is finally considered as safer than alcohol.
People are slowly waking up and admitting that alcohol is a dangerous substance. Regular consumption of alcohol can extend to health problems from cancer to liver disease. In the last 20 years, the number of deaths related to alcohol more than doubled. In 2017 alone 73,000 people died in the US from liver disease or other alcohol-related illnesses. This number is higher than the number of deaths caused by all opioids and illicit drugs that same year which amounted to 70,000.
Society was afraid of the cannabis plant for almost 100 years, but now they are opening their minds to all the possibilities it offers. Legalization gives people the opportunity to buy cannabis in an organized setting with professionals. The strains and the amount of THC and CBD are clearly identified and offer to less experienced users to test different things, in a safe environment. Cannabis also has a lower percentage of user addiction compared to alcohol.
In Canada, beer sales started falling shortly after cannabis was legalized. This significant decrease in alcohol purchasing was worst in New Foundland and Labrador and the three prairies provinces. Those specific provinces actively built retail stores soon after the legalization. Their accelerated development of cannabis retail drove down the sales of domestic beer bottles by 6.4% since December 2018.
In other provinces like Ontario and Quebec, the impact on the alcohol market wasn't felt has much du to their very slow process to introduce a retail network. In British Columbia not much has been felt but for different reasons, the accessibility and retail organization of cannabis were already in place, before cannabis legalization.
In the US, even if we still don't have federal legalization, many states have legalized it, we also observe a decline in alcohol consumption in those regions. Many current studies support this claim. The first one issued in January 2020, showed that students in states where cannabis is legal are less likely to take part in binge drinking. Another study released in 2017 demonstrated that the availability of medical cannabis in certain states contributed to a monthly 15% decrease in alcohol sales.
Is it just hype from the newly legalized substance in Canada and some states or will this new behavior remain? It is hard to tell for now. Although, as mentioned before, people are truly waking up on how destructive alcohol is, despite its socially accepted reputation over the last decades. There is a correlation between the two industries and the liquor industry is aware. Constellation brands actually invested $5 billion in canopy growth, in 2017, showing that they are anticipating the growth of the cannabis industry. In Canada, the cannabis industry is expected to be worth $5 billion by 2021 and the sales in the US are estimated to reach $30 million by 2023. We can conclude that this new tangent around alcohol sales will probably keep going down until the cannabis market stabilizes.