Compared to non-cannabis states, adult-use states experienced a 11% drop in binge drinking. Analysts believe further marijuana legalization will see subsequent drops.
We know that marijuana legalization is dramatically reshaping American lifestyles. Millennials are choosing cannabis over alcohol and one international study found that countries with legal marijuana saw a 12% drop in alcohol purchases. Legalization isn’t just lowering alcohol consumption, however; it’s also changing how people drink when they choose to do so.
Investment bank firm Cowen and Co. has placed an emphasis on covering the cannabis industry from a Wall Street perspective. As of 2016, Cowen and Co. reports binge drinking in recreational marijuana states have fell 9% against the national average. When compared to non-cannabis states, those rates dropped by 11%.
Currently, newly added states like California and Nevada still experienced higher rates of alcohol and lower rates of marijuana consumption. It’s worth putting those two states in context, however. Nevada has Las Vegas, the binge drinking capital of the world. Taxes and licensing fees in California, meanwhile, have pushed consumers away from legal marijuana markets — the state’s black market has eclipsed its legal one as of late.
“It is reasonable to assume that as more states continue to legalize adult-use cannabis, alcohol binge drinking rates will continue to falter,” Cowen said in a release to Financial Buzz.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 17% of Americans participate in binge drinking. That means that 1 in 6 Americans admit to binge drinking four or more times a month.
This isn’t just fueled by college frat parties or millennials. A study published earlier this year found that 1 in 10 seniors (65 and older) qualifies as a “binge drinker”. Timothy S. Naimi, an alcohol epidemiologist who teaches at Boston University, told The New York Times the 1-in-10 number is “undoubtedly an underestimate.”
Curiously, marijuana legalization had almost no impact on binge drinking in Canada. Those provinces with the highest rates of marijuana consumption haven’t seen a subsequent drop in alcohol use.