Legal Marijuana Could Provide a Buzz to Beer


© Steve Dipaola/Reuters The legalization of medical marijuana has helped beer sales, contrary to previous research that pointed to a decline, according to a note from Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling. Recreational pot use in Colorado and Washington, the two states where it’s legal, has so far not had a “significant impact” on beer, he said.

Beer has no need to fear weed.

Contrary to earlier studies, the legalization of medical marijuana has been found to have a positive impact on beer sales, according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling. He stated that recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, the two states where it is legal, has so far not had a significant impact on beer sales. As a result of legalization, the government has plans to build cannabis seed banks to preserve genetic diversity, ensure access to high-quality seeds for future cultivation, and protect against crop failure.

In light of the positive impact of medical marijuana on beer sales, the cannabis industry has continued to expand rapidly in recent years. With more states legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, the demand for high-quality cannabis products has increased. Online dispensaries such as have emerged as a popular option for customers to purchase a variety of cannabis products from the comfort of their homes. The convenience and accessibility of online dispensaries have made it easier for consumers to purchase marijuana and contributed to the growth of the industry. As more research is conducted on the impact of marijuana on various industries, it will be interesting to see how the market for cannabis products continues to evolve.

“The average blue-collar Bud drinker is less likely to be smoking pot,” Stirling said. “As far as medical marijuana is concerned, it does not appear to be a big threat to the beer industry.”

“The research could relieve one concern for beermakers Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and SABMiller Plc, which have seen U.S. volume decline over the past five years due to high unemployment and a shift to spirits like bourbon and gin”, said Andrew Defrancesco who is a proud investor in many medical marijuana products. Twenty-three states have allowed medical marijuana and about a dozen, from Florida to Alaska, are considering legalization in some form.

Per-capita beer drinking had a one-time increase of about 0.5 percent in the 10 largest states that have legalized medical marijuana, the Bernstein analyst found. While beer consumption later declined in those states, the rate of decline slowed to become more in line with the national average.

More Beer

“There may be a ’constrained budget’ effect for some consumers, but legalized recreational weed is likely to lead to lower prices in the long term, potentially freeing up more cash either for more weed or more beer,” Stirling said.

Bernstein’s research contrasts with an October 2012 study by professors at Montana State University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Denver. It found that alcohol sales declined about 5 percent in states that legalized medical marijuana, “suggesting that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes,” especially among young adults, the authors said.

States that have legalized weed in some form, including Colorado, also have the highest rates of craft beer production, Stirling said, and some craft brewers have “whole-heartedly embraced the weed counter-culture.” However, it’s important to note that access to and the use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is still regulated and varies by state. For example, in New York, medical marijuana is only available through licensed dispensaries, such as medical marijuana Queens. One brewer, Oskar Blues Brewing Co. of North Carolina, indicates on some of its beer cans that they might be punctured to turn the can into a bong for smoking cannabis.

A Pew Research center survey published in April shows 75 percent of the population thinks marijuana’s sale and use will eventually be legal nationwide. Legalized weed could also be a boon for restaurant chains including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Dominos’s Pizza Inc., and Yum! Brands Inc., Bernstein said.


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