Have Beer Sales Tapped Out In States With Legalized Cannabis?

Stoking the flames of change, the legalized cannabis market is seemingly converting a small share of Colorado, Oregon and Washington’s beer drinking populace into recreational pot smokers.

Although gauging the impact of a formerly illicit substance as it emerges from the shadows of prohibition is difficult, a recent Cowen and Company study published last Friday by Brewbound is demonstrating a worrisome trend for those that make their living from the manufacturing of craft beers in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon:

“While (marijuana) retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016.”

According to the recently released financial analysis of the craft beer industry, consumption has tumbled by 2.6% on a year-over-year basis for microbreweries operating in the Pacific Northwest and the Centennial State; with Denver taking the biggest hit in total beer sales, dropping by 6.4%.

Also feeling a bit tapped out thanks to legalized marijuana, the Cowen and Company report noted that total sales of sub-premium suds have fallen by 2.4% percent since the beginning of 2016. And, in the beer swilling hubs of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, the parent company of both Budweiser and Coors have lost 4.4 percent of their overall year-to-date market share.

Triggering more than a little consternation (mostly within the alcohol industry), some view this new report and the declining use of alcohol (read: beer), as lofty progress for society at large. Made infamous thanks to its shameful association with over 80,000 alcohol-related deaths reported annually, beer consumption costs America’s taxpayers billions of dollars annually.

As some within the beleaguered beer industry are wringing their hands over their perceived loss of revenue, there is a huge upside to marijuana replacing beer for recreational purposes; fewer alcohol-related deaths, safer streets, and considerably less violence.

From a societal standpoint, the journal of Addictive Behaviors hit the nail on the proverbial head in 2003, “alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship,” concluding “cannabis reduces the likelihood of violence during intoxication.”

So, if the goal of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon is to safeguard their populace against the use of dangerous substances … consuming state-sanctioned cannabis over their locally crafted beer seems like a great start.

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Cover Image Courtesy of Thrillist

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