Marijuana vs. Alcohol: There’s Really No Competition, Industry Leaders Say

091715_In Colorado, the Alcohol Industry Thrives as Weed Sales Increase 

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When recreational marijuana was finally legalized in four states and Washington DC, those in the alcohol industry were squirming in their seats. Many of them were afraid that the new vice will eat up on their profits.

One of the early naysayers was Brown-Forman Corporation, producers of giant alcohol brands like Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels. “Consumer preferences and purchases may shift due to a host of factors, including the potential legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis within the United States,” it had said in a previous SEC filing.

No one can really blame Brown-Forman from such pessimistic thinking. A study helmed by University of Colorado Denver economics professor Daniel Rees found out that medical marijuana legalization in many states have led to steep falls in alcohol consumption.

There were even alcohol groups that opposed marijuana legalization due to this fear, in the same way that weed advocates also did a little trash talking on alcohol, claiming that the plant is a less dangerous alternative to alcohol.

Wrong predictions

Fast forward to a few years later, and the alcohol industry seems to thrive in the face of perceived competition. In fact, alcohol entrepreneurs think that weed might have even helped shore up the booze business.

“We’ve just seen phenomenal growth,” said Justin Martz, owner of Mr. B’s Wine & Spirits in Denver, Colorado. “It’s really turned out to be a non-issue. If anything, it’s kind of helped us. A high tide lifts all boats.”

Bryan Simpson from the New Belgium craft brewery in Fort Collins wholeheartedly agrees. Aside from saying that there marijuana had no significant impact on alcohol sales, he thinks that the two industries have even helped each other in boosting overall sales.

“There’s definitely some crossover in the two communities of beer drinkers and herb enjoyers. But I don’t think people are doubling down in one category or the other,” he said.

Even tax records relay the same story. While tax revenues from pot have tripled since June 2014, revenues from alcohol excise taxes also steadily increased, posting a 2.1 percent growth last May 2015 from June 2014.

Analysts claim that the boost in both marijuana and alcohol industries in Colorado also coincided with the increase in the number of tourists in the area. The tourism in the state hit record highs in during the first year of weed legalization in 2014, with more than 70 million visitors spending a total of $18.6 billion.

“Legalization adds to the overall draw,” Martz explained, even if not all tourists visited Colorado for pot.

Can marijuana be effectively used to cut down on other vices, like drinking and smoking? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.

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