Cannabis elevates while alcohol depresses, but the popularity of beer would paint a different picture. Abraham Lincoln said he firmly believed in the spirit of American, as long as they had “the facts and beer”; Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Bukowski wrote pages about their favorite beverages. Beer is a venerated American tradition, just like hemp used to be, but now one is legal, and the other is a Schedule 2 drug—unfit for even medical uses, as the DEA affirms. US President, Thomas Jefferson, a hemp farmer in his earlier years, believed that moderate servings of beer, “softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”
But what if he (and Lincoln, Poe, and Bukowski) were alive now with the forbidden fruit of the Cannabis sativa plant suddenly emerging as a medical wonder, to be vaped, eaten, smoked, and even imbibed like a sudsy, cold lager? Would putting cannabis on the same level playing field as alcohol—legal to adults and available at most stores—suddenly reveal to us a scary truth; we don’t like alcohol as much as we think we do.
About 27 percent of American beer drinkers say they are now buying legal marijuana instead of beer or would consider doing so if their state moves to legalize it for adult use, according to Cannabiz Consumer Group (G2G). More than a quarter of the 40,000 people surveyed last year said cannabis has replaced beer in their lives or could if legalization made it more accessible.
Future sales and future generations
The results shed light on a greater customer base for cannabis companies and a shrinking one for wine, beer, and liquor companies. For example, beer brewers who sold more than $105 billion worth of beer in 2015, stand to lose about $2 billion annually. Ultimately, C2G predicts that cannabis will cost beer 7% of its market when the United States legalizes medical and recreational weed for adults, coast-to-coast.
A 2016 report by the investment research group, Cowen and Company, noted that cannabis consumption is lowering beer sales in the states of Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. In Denver, the six percent drop in beer sales following legalization is considered extraordinary.
More than 24 million Americans legally purchased cannabis in 2016, and the new C2G report argues that these figures will only grow; a fully mature market, they say, could end up birthing a $50 billion industry.
And parents may like it, but legalization will significantly impact the future consumption habits of their kids. A study on high school drug use across the US in 2016—conducted by Project Know and reported in The Washington Post—found that young people chose marijuana over binge-drinking.