Where one says one thing, three more say something else entirely …
For the next two, three — probably seven — decades or so, you're going to get a lot of information by way of studies and 'scientific' papers. It's the new way to try and force a bunch of what's going on in our daily lives into digestible little nuggets for consumption.
Problem is, when one chart or study comes out, there are always three in line waiting for their time to shine. A good example is the latest from Cannabiz Consumer Group that just dropped claiming legal weed is going to suck over 7 percent of profits from the beer industry — accounting for more than $2 billion annually.
The group got to this by asking 40,000 people whether or not they've switched from using beer to weed in the last year (or if they would, if it's ever legalized federally). Twenty-seven percent say yes, which is a stark difference in what has already been discovered in the Washington, Oregon and Colorado markets over the past few years — where weed is actually legal recreationally and has been the longest.
In December of last year, research from Cowen & Company flimsily stated legal weed does in fact hurt alcohol sales, suggesting, "Colorado, Oregon and Washington are under-performing the overall U.S. beer market by 2.6 percentage points year-to-date," according to the Cannabist. However, the article goes on to state that simply isn't the case and doesn't provide a proper picture of what's really going on based around expert analysis.
To get a better idea of the impact legalization has on booze, one needs to look at excise taxes as it relates to growth. This is because sales scanners in places like Colorado — which has about 17 billion taprooms open at the moment — never factor into overall sales. People in that state drink a ton of beer at locations outside of their own home. Looking at taxes taken in, legal weed seems to have boosted sales … or have no real effect at all considering a causation can't really be quantified at this time.
As per Leafly.com:
"In Washington State, tax revenue from beer, wine, and hard alcohol sales has increased steadily over the past three years.
In Colorado, alcohol sales tax revenue has grown steadily since 2011.
In Oregon, the data is limited. But it, too, shows a steady gain in beer production and sales."
So here we sit, one side says it's going to have billions of dollars worth of impact, and the other says it's going to help just the same. The reality is, we're probably too early in this wild social experiment of ours to clearly see what's going on. There are a lot of factors that bring people to drink booze, and just as many that entice others to smoke herb (or eat, or dab, or vape, or drink, or whatever). Anyone who's ever been to a house party understands the two aren't mutually exclusive, either, and many nights people choose to use both.
Bottom line, headlines and fancy studies are nice to look at, but shouldn't be the end-all to your wisdom game. Human behavior is hard to predict, and what we're using now as absolute fact is probably going to sound absolutely ridiculous a few years down the line.
Beer is as American as guns and bald eagle flags. If the industry is all that worried about cannabis coming in and snaking profits, wouldn't it be best to work with it instead of against it, as it has in elections past? Either way, we're sure there are plenty of billions to go around.
[cover photo: MattysFlicks via flickr]