In 2016, Big Alcohol accumulated $223 billion in sales in America–thanks to it having little to no true competition. But as marijuana legalization leads to more marijuana consumers across the country, Big Alcohol is losing money to drinkers switching to marijuana. And once federal prohibition ends, the alcohol companies stand to lose a large chunk of their annual revenue.
A recent study from RaboResearch showed that women and the affluent would prefer marijuana to alcohol following the end of prohibition, Forbes reported. They study’s authors believe that health conscious consumers are more likely to stop consuming high-calorie alcoholic beverages for marijuana.
Younger age groups consider less the health costs associated with consuming alcohol; meanwhile, the health conscious are already choosing lower calorie alcoholic beverages. As Americans shift to leading healthier lifestyles, they see that marijuana is gluten-free and doesn’t attack vital parts of the body–like the liver, brain and kidneys–as alcohol does.
Marijuana is already a healthier alternative for those that prefer to relax with a little buzz but don’t want the potential health risks and weight gain that go along with consuming alcohol. A recent report indicated that, “The success of marijuana’s appeal to the health-conscious consumer, however, is based on the assumption that marijuana companies will market their brands as healthy, ‘lifestyle’ products, highlighting marijuana’s health-related advantages over alcohol.”
As more alcohol brands see that marijuana is a major contender, they are looking for ways to get into the marijuana industry or fuse the industries to maintain profits. In the U.S. and Canada, marijuana-infused adult beverages are becoming more visible. Constellation Brands and Blue Moon are two major adult beverage brands that plan to launch THC-infused options. Several wine makers have already begun marketing their marijuana-infused products. The infused beverages could reach annual revenues of about $15 billion.
In the next few years, alcohol brands that choose not to follow suit could take a pretty hard hit financially. Earl Blumenauer suggests that steps toward national legalization will “take a drastic turn following the upcoming election.” He said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that the next Congress will accelerate our progress to reform cannabis laws at the national level. Because of the work of advocates and the strong support of voters, progress is inevitable – and the 2018 election will prove it.”
The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman speculates that 2021 will be the year that everything changes.