What is it about?

This study compared monthly legal medical cannabis sales to those of beer, wine, and liquor stores in Canada from 2015 to 2018. It estimated that for each dollar of cannabis sold, alcohol sales dropped by about $0.74 to $0.84. Consequently, Canada’s 2017-2018 alcohol sales were roughly 1.8% lower than they otherwise would have been. The study showed that cannabis and alcohol sales were correlated; it did not prove that cannabis sales caused the lower alcohol sales. But it suggests that medical cannabis use replaced a small amount of alcohol drinking in Canada.

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Why is it important?

These results imply that decreased alcohol use might reduce the health and economic impacts of cannabis legalization. For example, increased cannabis-related health problems might come with decreased alcohol-related ones. And governments' new cannabis tax revenues might be offset by lower alcohol tax revenues. This seems to be the first comparison of alcohol sales to fully legal cannabis sales in Canada, rather than to federally illegal cannabis sales in the U.S. And it apparently was only the second study to measure actual cannabis sales, rather than just the passage of state cannabis laws.

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This page is a summary of: Relationships between sales of legal medical cannabis and alcohol in Canada,, Health Policy, November 2022, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2022.11.012.
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