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Is Cannabis A Threat To Alcohol Sales? It’s Complicated But Here’s What The Experts Say

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By Maureen Meehan

With the U.S. legal cannabis industry on track to pull in upwards of $46 billion by 2026, many in the alcohol and beverage space are eyeing the cannabis industry as a unique opportunity to expand and reach new consumers although there are just as many who are ill at ease over the impact this could have on alcohol sales.

Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDSA, said there’s no need for anyone to worry, that coexistence is where it’s at these days. BDSA is the leading provider of market research solutions for the global cannabinoid industry.

“Today, more consumers are pairing cannabis with alcohol than ever before, especially when relaxing or hanging out with friends,” Bingham said.

Consumption of cannabis by alcohol consumers is on the rise per BDSA’s Consumer Insights data, but consumer attitudes also show that consumption occasions for alcohol and cannabis differ enough that the supposed threat to alcohol sales posed by legal cannabis is minor. The number of cannabis consumers who report co-consuming cannabis with certain types of alcohol has seen an appreciable rise.

Anti-Marijuana Folks Credit Legalization To Alcohol-Related Deaths
Photo by Adam Jaime via Unsplash

“We’ve also seen a rise in more unexpected use occasions as consumers branch out and use cannabis in new ways, such as while indulging in fine dining or working out. This shift offers a unique opportunity for brands to focus on innovation and create new products to meet these varied use occasions,” Bingham told Benzinga.

Additional BDSA insights show that cannabis and alcohol are doing just fine together:

The share of consumers in adult-use markets who report pairing cannabis with spirits or liquor rose from 12% in Spring 2018 to 22% in Spring 2022, while the share who report cannabis with cocktails doubled to total 20% in Spring 2022.

RELATED: Americans Are Choosing Marijuana Over Alcohol

High energy social occasions such as bar nights, special events, and date nights present a lower risk of cannabis impact to alcohol sales, while consumption for health/wellness, creative endeavors, and certain outdoor activities are more often cannabis-specific.

Continued growth in the cannabis space will create opportunities for brands to produce products with targeted formulations designed to meet the varied needs and use occasions for consumers.

BDSA’s newest wave of Consumer Insights data demonstrates that more than 50% of those surveyed in cannabis-legal states have consumed cannabis in the past six months. Diving deeper into the data clearly shows that the cannabis consumer base is knowledgeable, open to trying new product formats and willing to experiment with incorporating cannabis into more occasions throughout their lives.

Marijuana Is Replacing Alcohol During The Pandemic And May Have Long Term Benefits
Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images

RELATED: More Than 40% Of People Admit To Doing This While Using Weed Or Alcohol

In just a few short years, BDSA noted that attitudes towards cannabis across the country have shifted rapidly, with the share of those who have “bought in” to cannabis consumption skyrocketing while fewer and fewer report not being open to consuming cannabis.

Overall consumer participation is lower in medical markets, but BDSA data suggest that consumer participation is growing at a similar rate.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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Cannabis Vs. Alcohol: Which One Is Safer, Healthier, And Better For Society?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades – cannabis is popular! Over the past 10 years, the support for full cannabis legalization has only been growing and some of the recent polls suggest that close to 70% of the country is in favor of making marijuana legal.

According to a recent Gallup poll, “Gallup has documented increasing support for legalizing marijuana over more than five decades, with particularly sharp increases occurring in the 2000s and 2010s. In 2013, a majority of Americans, for the first time, supported legalization. As was the case in 2020, solid majorities of U.S. adults in all major subgroups by gender, age, income, and education support legalizing marijuana.”

With this continued support for the legalization of cannabis, we might see the pool of regular users swell slightly, however, as of now there hasn’t been a major influx in “new users” despite cannabis being legal in several places. This only goes to show that not everyone who supports cannabis legalization are users themselves.

Nonetheless, for those who make the rules there is still the question about the net effect of cannabis on society and whether it will have a positive impact or not is always up for debate. Hell, it’s the very reasons why drug laws exist in the first place.

Of course, we can always look at one drug that is readily accepted by those who would caution us against cannabis legalization; I’m talking about ethanol baby!

Throughout the rest of this article we’ll take a closer look at the impact of cannabis and the impact of alcohol. Based on this assessment, we can see whether there would be a net-positive or negative based on these conditions.

If cannabis is to be such a risk to society, then surely any other drug with higher mortalities and adverse side effects should be scrutinized at the same level as cannabis. In the following article we’ll compare alcohol and cannabis and weigh out the risks and benefits of each.

marijuana alcohol
Photo by Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images

Cannabis vs. Alcohol: Yearly Deaths 

According to the Centers fo Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

The leading causes of alcohol-attributable deaths due to chronic conditions in the United States were: alcohol-associated liver disease, heart disease, stroke, unspecified liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and supraventricular cardiac dysrhythmia, AUD, breast cancer, and hypertension.

RELATED: An Alcoholic’s Guide To Cannabis Consumption

Yet, despite these horrific side effects of alcohol, it is celebrated and promoted everywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, alcohol companies should be able to peddle their drugs to their user-base even if these side-effects are so horrific.

Don’t think for a second that I’m advocating the prohibition of alcohol. Rather, I’m merely pointing out that a drug that has more causal side-effects than cannabis is currently legal and easily accessible.

Now let us check the yearly cannabis-related deaths and do our comparison.

Despite the low overall chances (virtually impossible) of dying from a weed overdose, some fatalities do occur.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a book-length examination of the health risks associated with various forms of cannabis. This examination included an in-depth review of the risks for fatal and nonfatal overdoses.

RELATED: Psychedelics And Weed Use Among 19-30 Year-Olds At All-Time High — Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

People cannot die from too much cannabis in their system, yet many people have died under the influence of marijuana. Basically, people get too high and do some occasional dumb stuff that gets them killed.

According to ScienceDirect:

  • Accidental injuries are the most common manners of death
  • No deaths were due to direct cannabis toxicity.
  • Most cases included multiple substances, with alcohol the most prominent.
rolling a marijuana joint
Photo by Ozge Yagmur / EyeEm/Getty Images

Medical Benefits of Alcohol

The main psychoactive ingredient in alcoholic beverages is ethanol. Generally referred to as alcohol, ethanol is the substance that makes you drunk.

It’s produced by yeasts that digest the sugar in certain carb-rich foods, such as grapes — used to make wine — or grains — used to make beer. Some types of fine red wine are rich in antioxidants and consuming one glass of wine a night will not significantly impact your health and you may even reap some of the benefits.

RELATED: All Forms Of Alcohol Are Bad For People This Age, Finds Study

That said, consuming high amounts does not provide greater health benefits. In fact, if you were to get sh*t-faced every night for the next month, I can guarantee there would be a significant decline in your physical and mental wellbeing. Conversely, if you were to smoke heavy amounts of cannabis for  a month straight, your physical health would not degrade as significantly and in most cases, your mental health wouldn’t be changed too significantly.

This isn’t to say you should binge toke for a month, it’s just an example!

Medical Benefits of Cannabis 

The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine.

THC also produces the “high” people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat edibles.

There are enough health benefits of cannabis consumption to fill a book, but here are the most notable and researched ones:

  • Pain Management
  • Stress & Anxiety Management
  • Dealing with Psychological Trauma
  • Bringing Homeostasis to the Body
  • Anti Cancer Properties
  • Anti Seizure Properties
  • Anti-Viral/Anti-Bacterial

And the list goes on. It is hard to believe and fully accept that a plant with such health benefits is still frowned upon and prohibited by the majority of governments around the world.

Medical Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol has a long history of destroying the lives of its users, health risks are numerous and fatal, and the annual death rate alone should tell you the degree of danger it imposes on society. .

For the short terms risks, alcohol can cause:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns & the infinite amount of stupid shit people do while drunk
  • Alcohol poisoning, a common medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth, this one is pretty self-explanatory.
Anti-Marijuana Folks Credit Legalization To Alcohol-Related Deaths
Photo by Adam Jaime via Unsplash

As for the long-term risks, this is where things start to get concerning, there is a long list but I’ll be mentioning the most likely to happen:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and rectum.
  • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence.

Medical Side Effects of Cannabis Abuse

While cannabis seems to be overflowing with health benefits, just like any other substance on this earth, its excess can bring a heavy toll on the mind. Some of the medical side effects of cannabis are according to “official sources”

  • Drowsiness
  • Slow reaction times
  • Lower ability to pay attention and impaired coordination
  • Respiratory problems

It’s important to note that the vast majority of users will never experience these symptoms, except for when they are stoned. However, the moment you’re sober again – the first three side effects wear off. Respiratory problems are uncommon with chronic cannabis users, however, this doesn’t mean that you should abuse the smoke.

Some of these risks apply for some and seem non-existent to others, due to the diversity of human genetics, each person experiences the same substance differently.

But for the most part,  those who consume cannabis in moderation, never suffer from any of the consequences mentioned.

Correlation Between Violent Crimes and Alcohol

Alcohol plays a big role in criminal activities and violence. Excessive drinking can lower inhibitions, impair a person’s judgment and increase the risk of aggressive behaviors.

Because of this, alcohol-related violence and crime rates are on the rise in the US. People can say whatever they want, but alcohol’s detriment to society is clear as day.

According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, roughly 40% of inmates who are incarcerated for violent offenses were under the influence of alcohol during the time of their crime. This is probably because alcohol numbs their critical thinking and allow them to override their sense  of reason when committing heinous crimes.

I know I’d much rather be drunk if I’m about to go murder someone in cold blood. Fortunately, I have no inclination to murdering anyone and therefore my alcohol consumption is virtually non-existent.

Can CBD, Psilocybin Help Fight Alcohol Abuse?
Photo by crotography/Getty Images

Some examples of criminal activities associated with excessive alcohol use include:

  • Robbery
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Child Abuse
  • Homicide

However, as you can see, many times the crimes related to alcohol are directed towards innocent people. A drunk abuse father and husband, the young thug trying to prove he’s hard, the rapist getting ready to destroy someone’s world.

Alcohol allows the criminal to bypass their critical thinking, their empathy, and engage in a base-emotional state, driven by impulse. Yet this drug is readily available in every store.

Abuse and Alcohol

Many of those who abuse alcohol end up eventually abusing themselves and the people closest to them. When you tell someone that you come from a broken home, the first thing they ask you is if you had an alcoholic parent.

We are at a point where everyone knows that a raging alcoholic can wreak havoc on society, and sadly, his children, spouse, and other close family members and friends are the most at risk.

While there is much debate as to whether alcohol can be a lone trigger in domestic abuse, it cannot be denied that it is statistically more likely to be involved than it isn’t. Two-thirds of victims of spousal abuse report that the perpetrator had been drinking at the time of the incident(s).

All of this is to show just how devastating the misuse of alcohol can be in our society, and the irony that we’ve been witnessing for years, of how alcohol is being pushed and sold everywhere; As long as you’re not driving while drunk, no one can stop you from drinking your life away.

Conclusion

I think all of the scientific facts mentioned above clearly reveal whether or not cannabis is better for people and society, It is such an obvious answer to what used to be a taboo question. There is no debate, for the many benefits of cannabis overshadow the little risk it may bring when used excessively.

Each year, more people are becoming more aware of the benefits of smoking weed and using cannabis products to enhance their quality of life. However, this doesn’t mean that alcohol should be pushed back into the black market. We know that even more hazardous than alcohol and any drug on this planet is “drug prohibition”. More people die from drug prohibition each year than all drug overdoses in the world.

Alcohol is “more dangerous” than cannabis, yet at no point should we ever restrict the freedom of a person to get blitzed.

Smoking Marijuana
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

The larger question is whether cannabis will deliver a “net positive” on society and while this analysis can’t answer that for sure, we know for a fact that it would be more positive than alcohol.

In fact, as more people begin to consume cannabis and reduce their dependence on alcohol, we should already begin to see a “net positive” effect.

The fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t even really be having this debate. We need to acknowledge that drug prohibition is the worst solution for everyone, and everyone loses.

When we mature as a society and accept that drug use and abuse is a part of our society, we can begin to solve those more specific problems instead of trying to police people’s consumption practices.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.



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Mixing Marijuana: How Cannabis Interacts With Melatonin, Caffeine, And Alcohol

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Many of us consume a wide range of substances to help keep us sane in this crazy life: coffee to help wake us up and be productive; alcohol, for celebrating or for decompressing; and melatonin, one of the most common over-the-counter sleep aids for those sleepless nights.

But with more people consuming cannabis, how do these interactions play about?

Coffee

According to experts, majority of Americans consume some kind of coffee drink daily. That’s millions of people who rely on a cup of joe for everyday. And the numbers of people who consume marijuana continue to rise too.

The euphoric bliss that comes with pairing coffee with marijuana is unlike any other. Many believe that the origins of combining coffee and marijuana started in Amsterdam, where the cannabis café culture was abuzz for many decades.

Whether you’re drinking a straight-up commercial THC or CBD infused coffee drink, or having a few puffs from your vape after your morning coffee, it’s hard to describe why this mix feels so good. The caffeine content in coffee stimulates the central nervous system and prevents you from getting sleepy, providing a much-needed mental and physical energy boost. Cannabis can work similarly in the human body.

coffee tea
Photo by Chad Madden via Unsplash

However, everyone reacts differently to the combination. Some find that consuming CBD with coffee helps take the edge off a strong caffeine dose, while boosting it with THC can increase alertness and energy. A 2013 study suggests that the combination can improve cognitive performance, offering better concentration while the user also enjoys the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

RELATED: Why You Should Be Using Cannabis Instead Of Energy Drinks

In another study, researchers found that both marijuana and caffeine lead to a spike in dopamine levels through various mechanisms. The findings suggest that when these are taken at the same time, this dopamine increase could be responsible for the boost of happy feelings and euphoria.

Both cannabis and caffeine are natural compounds. Combining both is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people, as long as you don’t consume excessive amounts of coffee because this can lead to heart palpitations.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces on its own as a response to darkness. It helps regulate the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells us when it’s time to sleep or wake up.

Humans have the highest natural levels of melatonin in the evening when it’s dark. This is a signal for us to prepare for bed. However, millions of people struggle with falling and staying asleep. Melatonin is also one of the easiest over-the-counter supplements available to help people sleep.

According to studies, marijuana consumption helps naturally increase melatonin levels. It’s not surprising then, that so many rely on marijuana to help them fall and stay asleep. There’s even a market for sleep-specific cannabis products because it works so well in fighting insomnia.

sleep
Photo by Lux Graves via Unsplash

RELATED: Is CBN Going To Give Melatonin A Run For Its Money?

Consuming both melatonin and marijuana at the same time can make you extremely sleepy, drowsy, and sedated. This is not necessarily dangerous as long as you don’t take too much melatonin (experts recommend anywhere between 1-5mg per dose). There are no known dangerous interactions as of yet between the two, but it’s wise to tread cautiously.

Individuals who rely on cannabis to fall asleep due to pain or other illnesses that prevent them from getting decent shut eye are advised to talk to their physician if you need additional sleep aid. Instead of combining the two, which can lead to increased drowsiness when waking up in the morning, you may be better off with a stronger cannabis product or dose without needing to mix any substances.

Alcohol

Ahhhh… alcohol. The most popular legal and addictive substance society has today. There’s nothing wrong with having a few glasses of wine or a few bottles of beer at the end of a stressful work week.

Mixing it with cannabis makes relaxing even more enjoyable: combining the two can provide a deep level of sedation that helps you forget about all the stress. But if you are a binge drinker, which is typically defined as drinking more than 4 or 5 drinks within two hours, mixing with cannabis is not recommended. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is responsible for causing over 200 different illnesses. On top of that, drunk driving takes around 10,000 lives annually.

Casually mixing a few glasses of alcohol with a few tokes of weed is generally safe in moderation. However, it’s always safest to mix both when you are in the comfort of your own home and don’t have to worry about driving. But getting excessively drunk or stoned when mixing both can be dangerous and even cause blackouts.

Cannabis has also been shown to help reduce the incidence of liver cirrhosis, and minimize hangovers the next day. For many people who are seasoned cannabis consumers and know how to drink responsibly, the occasional mixing of both substances should be fine.

When it comes to CBD, which isn’t psychoactive, you may experience an increase in sleepiness when combining with alcohol if either is consumed in high doses. If you are interested in mixing CBD with your glass of wine, it’s always recommended to purchase from legitimate manufacturers especially those that can provide you with a certificate of analysis so that you know exactly how much you are consuming. Always choose a high CBD and low to no THC product to increase the safety of the experience.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.



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Marijuana Vs. Alcohol: How The Two Industries Are Handling Inflation, And What That Means For Consumers

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If there are two things Americans can’t escape right now, it’s rising prices and the discussion of rising prices. There is no denying that inflation is dangerously high, with the most recent inflation rate at about 9.1% according to Bloomberg. Still, not all areas of the economy are being affected in the same way. Take marijuana and alcohol, for example.

While the marijuana and alcohol industries have both been hit by rising costs and supply shortages, their prices are not growing at the same rate as many other consumer goods. In fact, marijuana prices are down. But as you look closer at these two industries you can see that just because their prices haven’t immediately skyrocketed does not mean there is no internal struggle. Both industries have their own set of inflation problems, and their own ways of coping.

One major difference between alcohol and marijuana is how it can be purchased and consumed. Marijuana is only legal in certain states, and must be purchased through a licensed recreational or medical dispensary. Alcohol, on the other hand, can be purchased and consumed in a myriad of ways. You can purchase it from the source (a vineyard or distillery), at a wholesale club, retail store, and at a bar or restaurant. All of these different methods of purchase have a different experience, and also a different price.

This wide variety of purchase methods makes alcohol affordable to pretty much all Americans, but rising costs has resulted in a decrease in some of the more expensive ways in which it is normally consumed. According to a poll by Morning Consult, “More than 8 in 10 respondents who say they’ve made adjustments are eating out at restaurants less often. Roughly three-quarters are going to bars less often.” This means that while the alcohol manufacturer may still be able to sell the same amount of product, certain aspects of the industry are suffering. 

marijuana alcohol
Photo by Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images

RELATED: Home Growers Vs. Home Brewers — They’re More Alike Than You Might Think!

Many who might have had a few beers at a bar may be more likely to buy a 6-pack on sale at the store instead. This makes any price increases less obvious, since the consumer is likely left feeling like they have saved money when buying beer at a store rather than a bar, even if the price of their beer or wine they purchased has still gone up in price.

Even if alcohol sales have not plummeted as of yet, the cost of doing business is starting to trouble even the most successful alcohol manufacturers. This is not just an American issue either. Take the wildly popular international beer brand Heineken as an example. The brewer’s chief executive, Dolf van den Brink told The Financial Times that, “Across the board we are faced with crazy increases. There’s no model that can handle this kind of inflation.” They are not alone, with overall beer prices already up 4.3% throughout Europe, according to The Guardian.

Marijuana manufacturers, on the other hand, are having a different price problem. Marijuana must be purchased from a licensed dispensary, but increased competition in the legal market and illegal black market competition has made it difficult for companies to raise prices. As we have previously reported, “The cost of cannabis has been declining in many major markets for months, with consumers seeing prices per milligram trending down for most of the year.” As so many other prices rise and rise, the price of weed is getting more affordable. 

This might seem like great news for the consumer, and for now it is, but eventually marijuana cultivators will have to pass the rising costs of business on to the consumer somehow. Since increasing prices is currently seen as too risky in the current marijuana market, many large companies have scaled back operations and even laid off parts of their workforce. This also means less variety of product at many stores. So while marijuana may appear to not be affected by inflation when you look at its shrinking prices, if you look deeper you will see the business at its core is struggling to grow.

marijuana saless
Photo by Ivan-balvan/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Marijuana Companies Are Laying Off Workers As Industry Grows

Marijuana is still a new business, and it is enduring another test from the financial powers that be. Alcohol, on the other hand, has been through prohibitions, recessions and depressions before. This does not mean it does not struggle as much as other industries. It does mean it has a few tricks it has learned along the way, which in addition to being legal on a federal level, gives it a bit more wiggle room to set prices and grow in these times.

Regardless, both industries are reporting profits, maybe just not as much as expected. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and marijuana remain affordable for the consumer. That does not mean that one day one or both of these industries might have to raise prices in order to ensure they stay afloat and profitable.



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