More Than Half of Millennials Will Replace Alcohol with Marijuana


A new report projects that more than half of all American millennials will substitute marijuana for their intake of alcoholic beverages.

Findings in a new report indicate that the growing use of cannabis, especially among younger adults, will make a significant impact on the alcohol industry. A California-based medical cannabis dispensary recently partnered with Florida-based research consultancy firm Monocle Research to study cannabis and alcohol use among millennials.

In-person interviews, focus groups, and an online study of over 2,000 marijuana users in California were used to investigate cannabis use behaviors, including substances used beside cannabis and how often users opt to replace one substance over another.

Among the report’s findings:

  • 34 percent of millennials will choose cannabis over beer
  • 18 percent of millennials will substitute cannabis for wine
  • 14 percent of millennials will replace spirits with cannabis

Overall, the report suggests, 51 percent of millennial cannabis users are saying yes to marijuana and no to alcohol.

“We found that for millennials, the choice between the two main recreational substances, alcohol and tobacco, has always been an easy one. Growing up with anti-tobacco messaging, the smoking rate for 18-29 year olds in the U.S. has dropped by 22% over the past decade, leaving alcohol as the substance of choice,” said Lincoln Fish, the California dispensary’s CEO. “But we are already seeing a decrease in alcohol sales, which means that cannabis is poised to be the new recreational substance of choice for many millennials and beyond.”

In general, the explanations given among those switching to cannabis were related to their perceptions of safety, cost, and health. Respondents expressed concern over a greater tendency to make poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol. Consistently to be a factor was the discrepancies in cost, with many saying that high quality cannabis was less expensive than their overall spending on alcohol. Many also claimed that cannabis left no noticeable lasting effects on the day after use, allowing them to feel healthier and more active. The hangover of alcohol use, however, often adversely affected how they felt the next day.

Millennials were found to be much more likely to substitute cannabis for alcohol. Just one in five Generation X’ers (born 1961-1981) and 8 percent of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) are open to shifting toward cannabis.

Younger adults more inclined to turn to cannabis bodes well for the future of the nation’s legal cannabis industry, which is projected to have a gross domestic growth rate of 25 percent and exceed $21 billion by 2021. A separate report published last month found that more than 1 in 4 Americans have already substituted beer for cannabis or plan to do so in the future.

Eight U.S. states have passed recreational marijuana laws and so far four of those have implemented their programs and have operational markets. Reports have shown that as marijuana legalization expands and adult use markets grow, beer sales subsequently drop. This suggests a potential boom in future growth, as some market analysts are predicting that every state will legalize medical or recreational marijuana by 2021.

You can read the entire report, “California Millennials Say No to Alcohol and Yes to Marijuana,” here.

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