We all know it’s a lot safer to smoke cannabis than it is to drink alcohol. This isn’t a guess nor wishful thinking, it’s a fact. Alcohol is said to be 127 more lethal than cannabis and seeing that tens of thousands of people die each year to alcohol abuse, and a big fat zero attributed to marijuana…it’s safe to say that cannabis is the friendlier of the two drugs.
As the entire country inches towards national cannabis legalization, there is one question that we must ask in relation to these two drugs; are they compliments or supplements?
In other words, if we were to legalize cannabis around the country, will more people begin to substitute cannabis for alcohol or will they complement the two drugs?
This is a good question because while being intoxicated with alcohol by itself can be a dangerous scenario, coupling it with cannabis increases the effects significantly. Stoned and Drunk combined is not an ideal scenario on a massive scale.
Fortunately, the question to whether the two substances are complements or substitutes seems to have been answered in a recently published study.
Alcohol Cannabis Study Explained
A small group of researchers recently published online a study on the issue whether the legalization of cannabis has an effect on the sales of alcohol.
In order to answer the question, they lumped states into counties and compared the alcohol sales in grocery stores, convenience stores and mass distribution stores to states that have legalized cannabis for medical reasons.
Thus, the same county would have a median of consumption pre-legalization and post-legalization. What they found was that on average there was a 15% decrease in alcohol sales post legalization.
We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. Counties located in MML states reduced monthly alcohol sales by 15 percent, which is a consistent finding across several empirical specifications. When disaggregating by beer and wine we find that legalization of medical marijuana had a negative effect on corresponding sales by as much as 13.8 and 16.2 percent, respectively. –
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