Colorado beer sales up in smoke

download (1)Legal marijuana is a major new cash crop for the off-grid community in Washington State and Colorado.

And a “marijuana hangover is starting to hit the beer industry,” the Financial Times reports.

The end of pot’s prohibition has rattled the beer industry for years, raising fears that consumers will be able to – legally – get their buzzes from new places. So if you live off-grid – start growing – Cannabis Grow Bible, The: Definitive Guide to Growing Marijuana for Recreational and Medical Use

New data on US beer sales, confirms these fears by offering evidence that pot appears to have eaten into Colorado beer sales in January.

Beer sales fell 4.9 per cent across the US last month, but 9.2 per cent in Colorado. Moreover, beer’s share of total alcohol sales also fell more in Colorado than in the rest of the country.

Bill Pecoriello, of GuestMetrics, which tracks these things, says that pot legalisation is the likely reason:

During the first month of pot legalisation in Colorado, that there does appear to be an impact on beer trends relative to the rest of the country.

Mr Pecoriello said that last January’s beer sales were not affected by weather or other factors, suggesting that the data does in fact tell the story.

Recent research focused on the impact of alcohol taxation and variation of legal drinking ages supports Mr Pecoriello’s findings.

A study by Mark Anderson, of Montana State University, and Daniel Rees, of University of Colorado-Denver, finds that marijuana tends to serve as a substitute for alcohol and suggests “legalisation of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington will lead to increased marijuana consumption coupled with decreased alcohol consumption”.

Beer industry insiders have quietly worried about this dynamic and the possibility that it could worsen as pot sales begin in Washington state and in other states as they consider legalisation for some time.

Harry Schuhmacher, the publisher of a beer industry newsletter, predicted as much last month:

Several states including California will legalise marijuana for recreational use. In states where it is made legal, marijuana sales will be initially very strong — like crazy strong as Colorado has seen lines out the door at dispensaries this week — and will cut into beer sales materially.
However, Mr Schuhmacher thinks that once the high over legal marijuana fades and curiosity wanes, beer sales will begin to normalise.

Until that happens, grow it.

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