How Cannabis Legalization in Canada Impacted Beer Sales: A New Study

Cannabis Legalization in Canada Impacted Beer Sales

Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis in 2018, following Uruguay. Since then, many people have wondered how this policy change has affected the consumption of other substances, such as alcohol. A new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence has shed some light on this question, by analyzing the sales of beer and spirits across all Canadian provinces before and after legalization.

Cannabis Use Increased After Legalization

The study, titled “Association Between Non-Medical Cannabis Legalization and Alcohol Sales: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Canada”, was conducted by researchers from the University of Manitoba, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the University of Toronto. They used monthly data on sales of spirits and of bottled, canned, and kegged beer from January 2016 to February 2020 for spirits, and from January 2012 to February 2020 for beer. They also used data on cannabis use from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, which showed that cannabis use in the country increased from about 15% before legalization to nearly 17% in 2019.

The researchers applied an Interrupted Time Series design, which allows them to compare the trends in alcohol sales before and after the legalization of cannabis, while controlling for other factors that may affect alcohol consumption, such as seasonality, income, and population. They also compared the results across different provinces, which had different levels of cannabis availability and accessibility after legalization.

Beer Sales Declined, But Spirits Sales Remained Unchanged

The main finding of the study was that the legalization of cannabis was associated with a decline in some alcohol sales, especially beer. Canada-wide beer sales fell by 96 hectoliters per 100,000 population immediately after non-medical cannabis legalization and by 4 hectoliters per 100,000 population each month thereafter for an average monthly reduction of 136 hectoliters per 100,000 population post-legalization. This indicates that some consumers may have substituted cannabis for beer, or reduced their beer intake due to the availability of cannabis.

 Cannabis Legalization in Canada Impacted Beer Sales

However, the effect of cannabis legalization on beer sales was not uniform across all provinces. All provinces except the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) experienced a decline in beer sales. The Western provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan) saw the largest reductions in average monthly beer sales, which ranged between 228 and 505 hectoliters per 100,000 population over the post-legalization period. The researchers suggested that this may be due to the higher availability and accessibility of cannabis in these provinces, as well as the higher prevalence of cannabis use among their populations.

On the other hand, the legalization of cannabis had no significant impact on the sales of spirits, which include whisky, rum, gin, tequila, liqueurs, and vodka. The researchers speculated that this may be because spirits are more likely to be consumed on special occasions or in social settings, rather than as a regular habit. They also noted that spirits have a higher alcohol content and a different psychoactive effect than beer, which may make them less substitutable for cannabis.

Implications for Public Health and Policy

The study is the first of its kind to examine the association between non-medical cannabis legalization and alcohol sales in Canada, using a quasi-experimental design and a comprehensive data set. The results have important implications for public health and policy, as they suggest that cannabis legalization may have reduced the harms associated with alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, violence, and traffic accidents. However, the researchers also cautioned that cannabis use may have its own negative consequences, such as impaired driving, cognitive impairment, and mental health problems, especially among young people. Therefore, they recommended that policymakers should monitor the trends in cannabis and alcohol use and implement appropriate regulations and interventions to prevent and reduce the potential harms of both substances.

The study also acknowledged some limitations, such as the lack of data on other types of alcohol, such as wine and ready-to-drink cocktails, the possible underreporting of cannabis use in surveys, and the potential confounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol and cannabis consumption. The researchers suggested that future studies could address these limitations by using longer-term, post-pandemic data, more diverse demographic groups, and more detailed measures of cannabis and alcohol use.

By Benjamin Parker

Benjamin Parker is a seasoned senior content writer specializing in the CBD niche at CBD Strains Only. With a wealth of experience and expertise in the field, Benjamin is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content on all things CBD-related. His in-depth knowledge and passion for the benefits of CBD shine through in his articles, offering readers a deeper understanding of the industry and its potential for promoting health and wellness.

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