Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2017

    personal_cultivationSales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

    Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

    Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

    Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

    Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

    67 responses to “Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization”

    1. Laura says:

      Not suprising! I will admit if marijuana was legal in Indiana I would much rather smoke than drink. It relieves my anxiety much better without all the side effects of alcohol. Not to mention no hang over and does not worsen my depression like alcohol, but instead helps it fade away! Cannot wait for Mary Jane to be legal here !!

    2. Joel: the other Joel says:

      It’s A Wonderful Life. Pot can put a smile on your face and be happy during this seasonal holidays.

    3. Julian says:

      While the Washington v. Sessions case develops:


      Cases to legalize or decriminalize marijuana in other nations are developing:


      The former soviet nation of Georgia decriminalizing cannabis is a bigger deal than we might realize. While the case involved ending smoked marijuana arrests, a hemp economy in one of the world’s oldest hemp civilizations could be an even greater catalyst for world legalization economically than the freedom of the man who took his weed to court.. but it all begins with freedom.

    4. Evening Bud says:

      They’re becoming enlightened, even in Georgia! Seems the dominoes are slowly falling around the world.

    5. Julian says:


      California is working overtime to get Los Angeles ready to “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” so they dont end up like San Francisco. Although SF completed its regs, it will not be ready for business Jan. 1st. A small delay, in my humble opinion, for inevitable revenue and legalization.

      With Friday’s deadline on extending the Rohrabacher Blumenauer amendment to prevent Federal funds to crackdown on mmj from reaching AG Sessions before Mueller can indict him for failing to notify authorities of a felony, Cali is going to need to get real creative on deliveries in the meantime.

      These next few days of our activism to legalize marijuana from state to federal legislatures is the tipping point for prohibition to legalization worldwide. Please click on the ACT tab and contact your reps today.

      The stakes are high, and so are we.

    6. Dain Bramage says:

      If marijuana were truly regulated like alcohol, some have suggested that cannabis should, or would, be regulated by the AFT (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.)

      But, as reported by Alternet: Authorities in Pennsylvania and Hawaii have spoken out last week, declaring that people who have medical marijuana licenses in those states will need to give up access to firearms.

      The decisions are tied to a 50-year-old law, which was upheld in a Supreme Court ruling last year.

      “The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone from possessing guns if they use or are addicted to cannabis,” Christopher Morales, a California criminal defense attorney, told Leafly. The law forbids people who use federally restricted substances from owning firearms, even if the substances they use are legal in the state that they reside in.
      (That is the end of the Alternet excerpt.)

      Now, personally and candidly, and in the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I loathe guns, and find the NRA repugnant. But arguments for Freedom go a long way with me, as do arguments for self-defense. But what of marijuana?

      For me, the choice between guns and pot is easy — I choose pot, thank you very much.

      But I ask you to consider the pot-smoking, gun-owners’ dilemna. They are, in effect, being forced to choose between their gun and their weed. Let’s assume they think that is an unfair and unreasonable choice; further, let’s assume they become politically active. Question: which is the better argument for freedom, a) more gun freedoms, or b) more marijuana freedoms?

      I say, since marijuana is extremely safe, and guns extremely unsafe, that therefore the answer is “b.” Logically, ALL gun owners should be against marijuana prohibition.

      Yet, the gun lobby opposes the cannabis lobby. Why?

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Correction, that acronym is “ATF.”

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Knowing what I know about the safety and medical efficacy of cannabis, if I were a gun owner, or if I decided to become a gun owner, I would tend to view efforts to disarm medical marijuana patients as a direct result of marijuana prohibition and reefer madness, as opposed to a legitimate gun control measure aimed at curbing violence.

        • Dain Bramage says:

          In other words, The Gun Control Act Of 1968, like many other laws, is deceptively titled. (Think “Clean Air Act” which promotes pollution.) It’s not about gun control; rather, it’s about marijuana prohibition. This is true because the law is premised on bogus, reefer-madness assumptions about cannabis use.

          • Dain Bramage says:

            And further, because of the fact that drug prohibition promotes violence, (be that drug alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug) the effect of the marijuana-prohibition-law-disguised-as-a-gun-control-law is likely to INCREASE VIOLENCE, exactly the opposite of what gun control advocates want.

            Gun control advocates and marijuana legalization advocates both want the same thing, in general: a safer, saner society.

            We should be on the same side, I would have thought.

            Okay. I’m out!

            • Julian says:

              Drain Bamage,
              You kinda answered your own question over why the NRA stays hypocritically silent over gun rights for the many Americans that consume marijuana; Part of the reason is the ATF is a beaurocracy out of the Dep. of the Treasury with very little oversight from the DOJ. Another reason, as you mentioned is that federal courts continue to uphold the law, but primarily the portion of the CSAct that prevent anyone in possession of a schedule 1 substance to have a firearm. The NRA was nowhere to be found in these recent court battles. Part of that reason is that law enforcement are some of the arms industry’s best customers. And the ATF, by way of little known laws that allow them unconstitutional authority to disclose (or not) the serial numbers of any weapons sold in the United States, effectively making the ATF the premeir arms cartel brokers of the world. Remember it was a “sting” Fast & Furious operation by the ATF that sold all those weapons to El Chapo Guzman. Thousands of innocent immigrants were killed through extortion and violence. Only after a DEA agent was killed was the entire operation brought to light. But this activity plays itself out repeatedly, and the Trump administration would like to privatize these weapon sales into a private CIA under Eric Prince, aka, the Prince of Darkness of Blackwater.

              Bottom line is the NRA represents the interests of gun sales, not the second amendment. Theyre phony, and cannot be trusted to help marijuana activists with their gun rights, only called out for the hypocrites they are.

            • Evening Bud says:


              I know you’re a good guy, but it seems you and I disagree on the gun issue. While I personally don’t like the idea of connecting MMJ to gun ownership, I do believe that Hawaii has the right to make its laws.

              Also, I don’t equate the 2nd Amendment with protecting us from internal tyranny. We are assured that that is what we need by 2nd Amend advocates. And I once had a 2nd Amender tell me that the only thing standing between me and tyranny was the 2nd Amendment.

              Funny, we have a guy in the White House right now who is acting very tyrannical and it seems the 2nd Amendment has done nothing to curtail him.

              Also, it’s interesting that 2nd Amendment advocates believe the only thing saving us from internal tyranny is the 2nd Amendment, but history shows us that many tyrants were overthrown without a 2nd Amendment, the Chinese, French and Russian Revolutions among them.

              Sorry, I just don’t buy the argument that the 2nd Amendment is protecting us from tyrants. What the NRA–its lobbying money–is doing us is ensuring us of near-weekly slaughters. The NRA, as an organization has repeatedly shown that it doesn’t really give a crap about gun violence in our society.

              Also, if it were an honest organization, it wouldn’t hammer home a false message on a regular basis, and that is that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. period. No. The 2nd Amendment says:

              (cont . . . )

            • Evening Bud says:


              As a postscript, I just wanna add that I actually misread your original post on this issue, so my apologies if I misrepresented what you said. (I suffer from a bit of A.D.D. and have a tendency sometimes to skim over comments too quickly.)

          • Evening Bud says:

            (cont . . . )

            “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

            That’s it, that’s the 2nd Amendment. The opening two clauses are clear: A WELL REGULATED MILITIA, BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE . . . ”

            Those opening clauses are crucial, and cannot be ignored as if they don’t exist. The Amendment is saying the right to bear arms is necessary in order to sustain a WELL REGULATED MILITIA. I own a gun, and I don’t belong to a militia. I suspect a tiny percentage of gun owners do belong to militias. So, if we’re to take that Amendment literally, then every gun owner who does not belong to a well regulated militia is not covered by that Amendment. Says so right there in black and white.

            That of course can be regarded as a ridiculous requisite for owning a gun, but if the NRA wants to use that Amendment to push guns on society, then it should at least be honest and admit that it’s distorting the original meaning of the Amendment.

            As I say, I’m a gun owner, and stand to inherit a few more in the coming years. But I believe the Amendment has been distorted not only by the NRA, but by its members as well.

            • Dain Bramage says:

              @ Evening Bud,
              No worries.
              And, actually, I completely agree with you regarding my/your second amendment rights, and the NRA.
              But it’s hypothetical for me. I am not a gun owner, nor am I interested in becoming one. But if I did, I wouldn’t want my second amendment rights taken away from me by reefer madness.

            • Evening Bud says:


              I actually agree with you in regards to guns and Reefer Madness policies. However, in light of the semi-regular gun slaughters that we’re currently enduring in our country, I feel compelled to play the Devil’s advocate. And I’ll never support an industry that is hell bent on flooding our streets with military-grade weapons.

    7. David Maher says:

      Last summer I went to Colorado. I went to some of the bars I used to frequent in the Boulder Denver area. The bar tenders all said that their business was higher than usual since cannabis has been legal. That said, they also said that the music and entertainment determines the amount of people that go to their establishments. The liquor store owners said that their sales have been the same, since legalization, but they thought it was because of the FUI enforcement, and more of their customers prefer to drink at home and with friends.

    8. TheOracle says:

      Jeff Sessions is at it again. In this video he says that last year vehicle accidents in which illegal drugs were involved exceeded accidents in which alcohol was involved. It sounds like he’s lumping cannabis in with ALL illegal drugs AGAIN.

      Furthermore, he’s being a total condescending jerk to the intern, like he is such an authority cannabis, cherry-picking the Kevin Sabet shit.


      • Dain Bramage says:

        @ TheOracle,

        Yes, Sessions speaks of “drugs” (by which he meant cannabis) and “alcohol” (by which he meant a thing perfectly legal and socially acceptable) as if they were two different things, which is, of course, classic reefer-madness duplicity.

        This duplicitous framing of the argument by the prohibitionists is meant to legitimize the hypocrisy of a war on users of some drugs, but not others. They simply have redefined the meaning of the word “drugs” to mean only certain drugs, in order to suit their corrupt political objectives.

        Of course, the term “drugs and alcohol” is a political gimmick which implies a distinction which does not exist.

        To wit, alcohol is a drug.

        And, Jefferson Peckerwood Session is lower than snakeshit. No wait, he’s like the bacteria in the snakeshit. No wait, he’s the rot that is left after the bacteria eats all the parasites in the snakeshit, and everything just dies. Snake too. Snake dies of intestinal infection three days later. Still contagious after death. I could go on, but… I think you get the point…

        • Julian says:

          Hey, Dain, don’t talk about rot like that! Rot is BETTER than Sessions! Rot is a natural and necessary process of life by whch bacteria and microbes regenerate the biproducts and nutrients that sustain life on our planet.
          Jeff Sessions, by contrast, is more like a tapeworm. His existence is dependent on the sustenance from people too uneducated, too poor or too sick to heal or defend themselves.
          Fortunately… (And I swear, I just looked this up on pure intuition…) cannabis is treatment for tapeworms!


          Dear God… if we hot boxed the White House for parasites there would be no one left!

        • Julian says:

          Hey, Dain, don’t talk about rot like that! Rot is BETTER than Sessions! Rot is a natural and necessary process of life by which bacteria and microbes regenerate the biproducts and nutrients that sustain life on our planet.

          Jeff Sessions, by contrast, is more like a tapeworm. His existence is dependent on the sustenance from people too uneducated, too poor or too sick to heal or defend themselves.

          Fortunately… (And I swear, I just looked this up on pure intuition…) cannabis is treatment for tapeworms!


          Dear God… if we hot boxed the White House for parasites there would be no one left!

      • Miles says:

        The cannabis community should have a nationwide party the day Jeffrey Sessions is placed into his grave; which I intend to dance on!

    9. Don M says:

      This morning I got a painful reminder of what happens when you drink too much… I finished a bottle of wine last night and now regret it.

      I never have this problem with cannabis. Usually, I feel as good or better the next day after using cannabis.

      So, as of today, no more alcohol for me!

      • Julian says:

        By all means dont let me discourage you if cutting alcohol cold turkey improves your health.
        But just in case that doesnt work, you could also try moderating the herb with the wine to drink just a glass or two. (Red wine is high in antioxidants which is good for your health). Also, try moderating a glass of cold glass of water in a taller wine glass to rinse the pallate between food and wine. Water helps prevent dehydration which causes hangovers.

        If that still gives you hangovers you may be sensitive to sulfites which are used as preservatives in wine. Only solution there is to make home made wine without sulfites in it.

        Good luck!

    10. Marijuana and alcohol are two of the most commonly used substances . In fact, a majority of the world has tried one or both at some point during their life.and as we go on in this battle for marijuana reform we learn alchol is worse than ever time for achange

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