According to a recent study, alcohol sales have dropped. Could this be related to how both medical and recreational marijuana are becoming increasingly available within the 29 states that have moved towards and establsihed some form of legalization?

The study’s goal was to identify the correlation between medical marijuana and alcohol consumption, examining retail sales for alcohol in states that had recently legalized medical marijuana. The results determined that after two years of medical marijuana being available, retail sales in grocery, convenience, drug or mass distribution stores had dropped 13 percent. However, due to the poor quality of the data, researchers did not factor in liquor sales.

Other studies have been conducted that focus on people’s own estimates of their alcohol consumption, whereas this recent study focused on hard data. Georgia State University economics professor Alberto Chong believes that the latter is inaccurate.

“[Previous] studies tried to answer the question using subjective surveys,” Chong stated. “We use actual data about sales, which is much better. That’s hard data—we know the exact number of sales per store.”

The study, which researched legal weed states Colorado, Oregon and Washington, concluded that two full years of medical marijuana being available to see a 13 percent drop in sales. It was also revealed that an 9 percent decrease was shown with the launch of medical marijuana in some states. Keep in mind that the study only considered medical marijuana, Chong considers that the increase of states legalizing recreational marijuana also played a role in the results.

“The drop in [alcohol] sales is so huge—it’s like 13 percent—that there has to be some leakage,” Chong added.

The study reinforces the prior discovery from Deloitte, that indicated Canadians would drop alcohol for recreational marijuana once it is legalized in July. “[There’s] a potential for some current beverage alcohol consumers to migrate away from that category and toward marijuana when it becomes legal,” the study concluded.

It was also suggested that marijuana would become a competitor to the alcohol industry, rather than complimenting it, as 80 percent of consumers chose not to mix the two. Chong considers this to be a positive change, as there are more negative effects of alcohol versus marijuana.

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