Would you rather light up a joint, or drink a beer?
According to new research by the Cannabiz Consumer Group (C2G), which studied the behavior of 40 thousand participants, marijuana is “canna-balizing” the beer industry. In states where cannabis has been legalized, 27 percent of drinkers have already substituted cannabis for beer. And if marijuana were legalized nationally, C2G predicts that the beer industry could lose more than $2 billion in retail sales.
However, just because cannabis is becoming more widely accepted, there’s no evidence that alcohol is going anywhere; it’s part of our culture. That’s why some innovative companies are coming up with new ways to combine the two.
Prohibition Gold is a cannabis product company that introduced the world’s first marijuana mixer: Potshotz, a powdered serving of cannabis that dissolves into your beverage. But the idea behind the product wasn’t to necessarily take over the alcohol industry.
“When we began development on Potshotz, we were looking to create an ultra-versatile product that the consumer could add to any beverage and not have it affect the taste,” said Greg Walters, Managing Partner of Prohibition Gold. “We didn’t break it down to specific kinds of beverages, because we wanted to make it work with almost anything liquid. It just seemed to fit in more with people’s habits of celebrating by lifting a glass of their favorite drink in a toast. As far as mixing the two, it’s nothing new. I mean, how many joints and beer have been consumed together?”
The reality is that no matter how popular cannabis becomes, or how often it is proven to be safer than alcohol—88,000 deaths each year can be attributed to alcohol use, while zero deaths have been linked to marijuana (Center for Disease Control)—alcohol isn’t going anywhere.
“In states where cannabis has been legalized, 27 percent of drinkers have already substituted cannabis for beer. And if marijuana were legalized nationally, C2G predicts that the beer industry would lose more than $2 billion in retail sales.”
In fact, in 2012, after legalizing recreational marijuana, Washington State hired the Rand Corporation to create a forecast of what might happen to the so-called “sin industries” as marijuana entered the fold. Their conclusion was that in ten years, marijuana had the potential to become the #2 “sin” in America, with beer remaining #1, wine coming in at #3 and spirits at #4.
“With this prediction, you can see why some people in the alcohol industry are worried, but we’re looking at a tremendous playing field that has plenty of room for all,” explained Greg. “A study completed by Survey Analytics reported that the average beer drinker in the United States spends over $1,200 each year on beer. So, while I think you will see a dip in beer and alcohol sales in legal states, it will be nothing of any major consequence over time. I am the first to admit that I enjoy beer and various spirits.”
As for the benefits of marijuana over alcohol, it’s not a fair comparison, at least in Greg’s eyes.
“I don’t know of any problems solved by using alcohol, and the benefits, if any, are only associated with very modest consumption,” he said. “Marijuana, on the other hand, can be very useful. It’s incredible how diverse this one plant is. We’re just now beginning to hear of the potential benefits in delaying or reducing the impact of Parkinson’s, dementia-related diseases and Alzheimer’s with regular marijuana use. It’s still early, and much study still needs to be done, but the possibilities look extremely promising.”
And it’s not just consumers who see the benefits of cannabis over alcohol. Greg has multiple friends in law enforcement, and they’ve admitted that legalization has had positive effects on the community.
“It is a safer place when people choose to imbibe instead of drink,” said Greg. “Almost universally, police say they would rather arrive at a call when they know people are smoking herb instead of entering a situation where people have been drinking. I’ve been told the threat of danger skyrockets when alcohol is involved, and diminishes when marijuana is in play. People act more aggressive when drinking, and it’s easier for someone to go past a safe level of consumption with alcohol than with marijuana.”
So, what’s the future of marijuana and the alcohol industry?
“We still have a very long way to go in becoming the juggernaut predicted by some,” said Greg. “I will know we’ve arrived when I can walk into a bar or restaurant, and when I order one of my favorite IPA’s, the waitress asks, ‘would you like a Potshotz with that, sir?’”
What’s it like to drink marijuana?
“When you drink marijuana, there is a delayed reaction, which is different than alcohol, and takes some getting used to,” explained Greg. “It’s subjective of course, but marijuana has a euphoric quality I tend to like better than the depressive effects alcohol gives me after a few drinks—not to mention the morning hangover. That said, the problem with marijuana is that it’s new for most people, especially edible marijuana products. So, while everyone knows how a glass of wine or shot of liquor is going to affect them, we’ve got a lot of work to do in the marijuana industry to develop standards and educate consumers.”