Legalization of Weed Boosting Alcohol Sales

The legalization of marijuana is still moving forward with even more states proposing to legalize the drug, and for years there was a debate about alcohol and marijuana. So far, four states and Washington DC have legalized weed, but as more states decide to legalize the drug, the alcohol industry has feared that the addition of this vice would then cut into the profits of the alcohol industry. Interestingly enough, the legalization of pot is actually making booze purchases increase, and this has been happening all over where weed is legal. This is actually a really good thing for the legalization of pot, because now there seems to be another proponent of the legalization of weed through the states.

pot smokers

When Colorado legalized the pot nearly two years ago, alcohol sales went up drastically, and now the alcohol industry is learning to embrace the neighboring vice that many Americans partake in. Bryan Simpson, a spokesman for the Fort Collins craft brewery in New Belgium said that those in the alcohol industry who were against the legalization were wrong. Simpson said that rather than the two vices competing against one another, it has actually wound up being mutually beneficial, because the two communities crossover quite often. Simpson said he did not think that people were doubling down either on the weed or the alcohol, but people are enjoying both equally. In Colorado, the tax records are showing that the alcohol sales have grown in the state even with recreational pot use increasing. The tax revenues from the pot have tripled between June 2014 through May 2015, and alcohol sales are continuously rising as well, even as the excise tax rising 2.1 percent. The alcohol group and the pot group were at odds a few years ago, but now there is quite the relationship brewing, and it does not seem to be going up in smoke anytime soon.

A lot of the alcohol industry groups were scared that the pot legalization would take away the interest people had in alcohol. The Brown-Forman Corporation, which is a publicly traded liquor manufacturer that produces many brands including Jack Daniels, said in a recent FEC filing that “consumer preferences and purchases could change with the potential legalization of marijuana.” There has been a bit of research that did say consumers considered alcohol and pot to be substitutes, with one study showing that medical marijuana in states led to sharp declines of alcohol. The University of Colorado Denver economics department did one of the studies, and the professor Daniel Rees, said that the alcohol industry should be concerned about this issue. Alcohol groups have often and openly opposed the legalization of pot, including in 2010, the California Beer & Beverages Distributors giving a $10,000 contribution to the Public Safety First organization. This group was fighting proposition 19, which was the measure in California to legalize the recreational use of pot, although obviously that proposition passed and pot became legal medically in the state.

It is not just the alcohol industry going off on the pot industry, because the pot industry also took some hits at the alcohol industry too. The pot industry and the legalization campaigns often point to alcohol as being the more dangerous of the two, and say that pot is far less dangerous to people and society than the effects of drinking. A lot of campaigns for the legalization of pot include “regulate marijuana like alcohol” making it a point to show that if alcohol is okay then the less dangerous option should be okay as well.

When it comes to Colorado, it seems that tourism is likely at the heart of both groups being able to come together to enjoy the increases in revenue. In 2014, there was a record in Colorado in terms of tourism, which was the first year of the pot legalization. There were 71.3 million visitors to the state in 2014, and tourists spend about $18.6 billion while visiting, although state officials were trying to say the legalization did not impact tourism until those numbers came out. Now, the alcohol industry, partially thanks to Colorado, is saying that pot is indeed a good thing for the business, and tourism in the states where pot is legalized is a big reason. Now the two groups are coming together more, starting to partner up to bring people into their communities. Some of the alcohol stores are handing out coupons to the customers for the pot stores with the pot stores being more than willing to hand over stacks of coupons to the alcohol stores to give out. If someone is in the pot store and asking where the alcohol store is or the other way around, both are becoming more willing to give directions to the other vice shop. If you have ever smoked pot then you know that it is often more enjoyable with a beer, and it is always common to see people at a party with a beer in their hand and a joint lit in their hand. People have been enjoying both vices together for years, because they often go together in terms of feeling, so now the alcohol industry and the pot industry are seeing that they can be friends, and they don’t have to fear that people will be choosing one over the other.

As more states continue to legalize pot, it is likely that the alcohol industry in these states will also increase, since that seems to be happening in all of the other states where it is legalized. You might even begin seeing half-and-half stores, if that is something that could be legally worked out, where you go in and get your alcohol and weed in the same place. Both industries are finally realizing that people feed off of both pleasures, with more people everyday partaking in the activities. It will also be interesting to see how other industries might see a boost as more states legalize pot both for medical use and personal use.

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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.