More People Are Using Cannabis - Are Fewer People Drinking?

July 20, 2017

I've noticed that our industry loves to panic about outside forces coming to harm us.  The latest panic is that marijuana legalization is going to reduce wine consumption.  My line has been that I'm not worried at this point.  Of course, there will be some effect, but at this point I see no reason to believe that that effect will be significant or even detectable.  A million things can reduce wine consumption: more amusement parks, zoning law changes, etc., etc.  All of those together are just statistical noise and I'm not sure cannabis legalization will be any different.  Why?

 

First, though I've heard a lot of bloviating about this issue, I have seen zero good evidence that cannabis consumption leads to reduced wine consumption.  In fact, when I have taken a look in the past, it seems that cannabis use is positively correlated with wine consumption (though I doubt that this is a causal relationship).  Second, seeing as cannabis is already ubiquitous and easy to purchase in this country, I'm not sure legalization will greatly increase consumption.  Was alcohol consumed less heavily during Prohibition?  Nope.  I don't see why this dynamic would be different with marijuana.

 

 

 

Inspired by Bill Swindell's recent article in the Press Democrat, I decided to take a quick dip into this subject again.  According to this article in the Lancet, cannabis use increased from 10.4% to 13.3% between 2002 and 2014.  Of those who do use cannabis, the average number of days per year in which they used cannabis increased from 10 to 16.3.  Total days of use then, across the whole population more than doubled.  Did people give up on wine?

 

Nope.  According to the Wine Institute, per capita consumption in 2002 was 2.14 gallons per year.  In 2014, it was 2.83 gallons, an increase of roughly one-third.  That's a solid gain at a time that our alleged villain made significant inroads.  So let's all just calm down and pour a glass of wine.

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