Can Legalising Cannabis Reduce Rates of Binge Drinking?

4th November 2019

Binge drinking has been on the rise in recent years, but a new report has shown that legalising recreational Cannabis may reverse this. Investment firm Cowen & Company have gathered evidence that shows US states which have legalised recreational Cannabis have experienced declines in binge drinking.

The report drew on information gathered by Grand View Research and a consumer poll. It found that binge drinking in US states that have legalised the recreational use of Cannabis saw a 9% drop in binge drinking, in comparison to the national average. Excessive drinking was also 11% lower in these states.

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more drinks for men, and four or more for women, in under two hours. Around 1 in 6 people engage in binge drinking at least once a week, according to current estimations.

In states with the longest history of legalised Cannabis use, like Colorado and Washington, the rates of binge drinking saw an even more prominent decline. The report shows that states that have legalised the sale of marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol see up to 13% less ‘binge’ alcohol consumption.

Analysts behind the report wrote:

“The writing is on the wall – people with legal access to recreational marijuana are opting to spend either all or a portion of their booze budget on a substance that has been deemed “a safer alternative.”

The current growth of Cannabis markets is becoming a growing cause for concern for the alcohol industry. Some large alcohol companies are addressing this concern by developing Cannabis products of their own. Beer giant, Molson Coors, has been in the process of developing Cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic beers for over a year.

Cowen & Company predict that the US Cannabis market will reach a value of $75 billion within the next 12 years.

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