The legalization of regulated medical marijuana sales leads to a significant reduction in sales of alcohol, according to the results of a recent study conducted by Canadian researchers. The study, titled “Relationships between sales of legal medical cannabis and alcohol in Canada,” was published last month by the peer-reviewed journal Health Policy.
The research was led by Michael J. Armstrong, a business professor at Brock University in Ontario,
The study found a “significant negative association” between regulated medicinal cannabis sales and alcohol sales and determined that sales of alcohol were nearly two percent less than they would have been without the availability of legal medical marijuana.
“The analysis estimated that each dollar of legal medical cannabis sold was associated with an average alcohol sales decrease of roughly $0.74 to $0.84,”
Association Not Necessarily Causation of Alcohol Sales Data
Armstrong said that the findings of the research suggest that medical cannabis use replaced some alcohol consumption. But he cautioned that the association between alcohol sales and medical cannabis sales did not necessarily imply causation. The researcher also noted that reduced alcohol consumption could at least partially offset the potential harms and benefits of cannabis use.
“For example, increased cannabis-related health problems might come with decreased alcohol-related ones,”
The authors of the study note that research into a possible association between cannabis use and alcohol use has been conducted with mixed results for decades. One study published earlier this year by a team of researchers at the University of Washington in cooperation with the Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division found that after a state decriminalizes the recreational use of marijuana, the use of alcohol, cigarette smoking and the abuse of pain medications by young people decreases.
The study, which was published by The Journal of Adolescent Health, found that the availability of regulated adult-use cannabis was associated with a decrease in the consumption of multiple commonly used substances.
“We document substitution between legal cannabis products and alcohol and tobacco products using detailed administrative and scanner data from Washington State,”
The researchers noted that their study contradicted fears that the legalization of recreational cannabis would be accompanied by a spike in overall substance use and recommended further investigation into the association between liberalizing cannabis policy and substance use trends.
“Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse,”