Cannabis and Alcohol

This article has reopened the discussion about the degree to which alcohol and cannabis are complementary or substitutes.

Alcohol sales get higher after weed legalization contrary to industry fears

But a few years into Colorado legalization, alcohol sales are up in the state, and those in the alcohol business have embraced their fellow industry.

In the 18 months since recreational sales were legalized in Colorado, “we’ve just seen phenomenal growth”, said Justin Martz, 32, who runs Mr B’s Wine & Spirits in downtown Denver. He noted that there was some concern initially about legalization, “but it’s really turned out to be a non-issue”. In fact, he said, “if anything it’s kind of helped us. A high tide lifts all boats.”

Bryan Simpson, spokesman for the Fort Collins craft brewery New Belgium, agreed that doomsayers in the alcohol industry were wrong. He argued that rather than alcohol and pot directly competing against one another for consumers’ dollars, the two can be mutually beneficial in boosting overall sales. […]

Part of the reason for the alcohol and marijuana industries’ success may be a boost in Colorado tourism. Though some state officials insist marijuana is not attracting new visitors, Colorado tourism set record highs in 2014, the first year of legalization, with 71.3 million visitors who collectively spent $18.6bn.

Many in the alcohol industry credit marijuana with helping boost tourism.

Of course, while the alcohol and cannabis industries may be happy with this apparent trend, it’s a real concern to the government paternalists who have, in the past, clearly expressed their willingness to throw casual users under the bus in an attempt to prevent problem drinking.

Mark A.R. Kleiman: @mrclay_org Either way, not good news. If cannabis were a substitute for alcohol, legalization would have been a lay-down.
No such luck.


Mark A.R. Kleiman: If cannabis and alcohol aren’t substitutes, “pot is safer than booze” is only a weak argument for legalization.


Mark A.R. Kleiman: @CaliforniaNORML
Foolish alcohol policies expose users and others to grave risk.
So in fairness we should do the same with weed.

Of course, this article still doesn’t answer the question related to whether pot and alcohol are complementary or substitutes (and to what degree, or by what populations).

Ultimately, to me, it doesn’t matter.

I simply cannot and will not accept the notion of paternalistic government that punishes large segments of the population in a misguided attempt to prevent a small group of people from harming themselves. It’s arrogant. It’s bad policy. It’s ineffective. And, particularly in a country that prides itself on freedom, it’s wrong.

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18 Responses to Cannabis and Alcohol

  1. darkcycle says:

    Meh. Klieman. “Pot is safer than alcohol”, moron. Not “Pot is a substitue for alcohol”.
    Just as valid as it was before, and just as compelling.

  2. Frank W. says:

    “All nations sold out by liars and cowards. Liars who want time for the future negatives to develop stall you with more lying offers while hot crab people mass war to extermination with the film in Rome. These reports reek of nova, sold out job, shit birth and death. Your planet has been invaded. You are dogs on all tape. The entire planet is being developed into terminal identity and complete surrender.”
    -Bill Lee

  3. primus says:

    A large number of cannabis consumers made holiday plans to visit Colorado, to enjoy the freedom to toke legally, without any interference from the authoritah. Said visitors likely enjoy a beer to cut the cottonmouth. They bought good craft beers to enjoy at the same time as they enjoyed their legal tokes. This has led to a slight uptick in beer sales. Yawn. Double Yawn. This would appear to be a temporary situation, because following the next federal election, many more states will be legal, which should reduce the number of vacationers going to Colo. At the same time, stats I have seen show a reduction in accidents and deaths on the roads, which is the main reason why the pantie-twisters get so agitated. IOW much pantie-twisting for naught.

    • B. Snow says:

      I must concur,
      Surely this is a craft beer and/or “microbrewery” thing effecting the overall sale of alcohol…

      Although – given the prices for legal cannabis, I would suspect that there might also be an uptick in sales for whatever brand is the cheapest available domestic beer.

      Based on a ‘little bit of wisdom’ shared amongst some of my college friends…

      That, “We’re drinking Miller High-Life – because that’s all you can afford to buy if you’re also getting high – aka living a high life.” *Rimshot*

  4. viggoPiggsko says:

    So people enjoy the combination of a few beers (or several) with cannabis, WHAT is wrong with that?

    • Windy says:

      Personally, I prefer wine to beer and I prefer even more kahlua and cream to wine. A couple tokes, then make the K&C, sit down at my computer, take a slurp, relax, read, and write.

  5. Freeman says:

    Heh, Dr. (k)Lieman must’ve forgotten how articles like these are “part of a broader trend of sensationalized non-peer reviewed scientific claims. I decry this trend“.

    And yet, with this single non-peer-reviewed un-validated data-point, he comes to the conclusion that his prejudices have been shown to be correct:

    “Mark A.R. Kleiman: @mrclay_org Either way, not good news. If cannabis were a substitute for alcohol, legalization would have been a lay-down.
    No such luck.”

    This is what passes for science at the Reality-Based Community. Peer review only matters when it reinforces your bias, right?

  6. MJ Verite says:

    By “foolish Cannabis policy,” I presume Kleiman refers to any policy other than his own. The substitution effect may or may not be real. Even if it is real, and strong, and occurs across the board, that is not now, nor has it ever been the principle reason for legalization. The principle reason is that my body is my own. It is my right to use it as I wish, so long as it harms no one else. Closely following that is the fact that the current system has created a police state, encouraging official theft in the form of forfeiture, and and and enabling the incarceration of a generation of black and brown men, women, and children. This did not happen by accident. Those who have perpetuated this system are either ignorant, incomptent, or outright evil. We deserve better. I want my country back!

    • thelbert says:

      my cannabis policy starts with a seed, and ends in the pursuit of happiness. plant some seeds. without permission. no violence nessesary. we don’t have to be violent to win, prohibitches have a habit of violence.

  7. DdC says:

    They actually sit around on tax dollars and think of potential doom and glum futures if we stop terrorizing people for using a vegetable. You can see they are leaking vital fluids from their ears. No brain waves registering. Not dealing with actual harms, but more predictions if this or that does that or this. It could prove detrimental to the accuracy of the line of bullshit spewed. But alas, never seems to sink in. More hogwash please. Oh we must have a policy, how will millions who have been smoking it 50 years know?

    Know what Markie?

    Oh sorry I dozed off, obesity’s a bitch ya know. My Psychic-ologist warned of the hazards of living in a futuristic fantasy world, but grasping reality is hard when you leave the cubical. So I eat.

    Multimillions quitting without a policy… with no knowledge of how addicted they are. Or if its contagious. What if it is cleaner with categorized strains and secure locations than what people are doing and have done a half century? With no policy.

    Legal or Not, its Pot Markie. You twist it up and fardup and suck. You fit the bill as far as a lifestyle that sucks. Don’t forget to exhale. Too many have been exploding in public lately, without a policy it can only get worse. Write faster Markie…

  8. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ve always thought that the reason for pointing out the relative safety issues is because the rationale shoveled by the prohibitionist parasites says that cannabis is illegal because it’s dangerous. Well since drinking alcohol is demonstrably more dangerous than cannabis it renders the law arbitrary, which makes it a violation of our right to the equal protection of the law. For people keeping score at home that’s found in the U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment, Section 1.

    Yes, I understand that under this argument the violation of our rights to equal protection can be cured by criminalizing drinking alcohol. I just don’t see that happening.

    I’d add a gratuitous insult for The Professor, but then he’d annoy Pete with his high pitched, incessant whining and it’s bad enough having to listen to him when he’s just talking to hear himself talk.

  9. Servetus says:

    In the ever expanding realm of addiction science comes more evidence Dr. Nora Volkow’s addiction theories are incomplete:

    8-SEP-2015 — A pair of studies suggests that a region of the brain – called the insular cortex – may hold the key to treating addiction. Scientists have come to this conclusion after finding that smokers who suffered a stroke in the insular cortex were far more likely to quit smoking and experience fewer and less severe withdrawal symptoms than those with strokes in other parts of the brain.

    “These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction,” said Amir Abdolahi Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the studies. “When this part of the brain is damaged during stroke, smokers are about twice as likely to stop smoking and their craving and withdrawal symptoms are far less severe.”

    Funding was from the “National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and a Clinical and Translational Science Institute grant from the National Institute of Health”, not the NIDA. More research like this should make it clear the NIDA’s rubbish research programs and methods are obsolete.

    AAAS press release here.

  10. TrebleBass says:

    Did the population of Colorado increase? that could explain it.

    In any case, the argument is not, as Mark says: “Foolish alcohol policies expose users and others to grave risk. So in fairness we should do the same with weed.”

    The argument is: Alcohol is legal, and weed is safer, so in fairness weed should be legal.

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