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Cannabis 'poses risk' to alcohol industry in the US, research says
Published:  21 February, 2019
IWSR cannabis research

Latest research by the IWSR shows that 45% of millennials in the US who consume alcohol, also consume cannabis.

The report “Beverage Alcohol, Cannabis and the Changing US Consumer: What are the Real Risks and Opportunities to Consumption Behavior?” is an initiative between IWSR Drinks Market Analysis and BDS Analytics, the data. 

Ten US states have now approved adult recreational usage of cannabis products and 34 states have approved cannabis for medicinal purposes. All but two of the remaining states allow for cannabidiol (CBD) products.

“Our research shows that up to 40% of adults 21 and over consume cannabis in states where it’s legal,” said Jessica Lukas, vice president, BDS Analytics. Cannabis presents substantial opportunities across consumer industries, including new occasions that alcohol cannot and will not play. 

“Consumers will continue to look to cannabis products over alcohol for occasions when they are feeling creative, need to get motivated, or seeking health, medical or wellness benefits.” 

The report also details areas where beverage alcohol and cannabis can and do co-exist. Though some cannabis use is starting to emerge during occasions that have been traditional alcohol occasions, the study indicates that cannabis and alcohol are often not always appropriate for the same occasions. 

“Though not yet mainstream, cannabis adoption is certainly growing in states where it’s legal and does pose a risk to the beverage alcohol industry in the future,” added Brandy Rand, IWSR’s US president. “It’s important that alcohol brands pay attention to their consumers, recognising that some occasions may result in a decrease in alcohol consumption in place of, or alongside, legal cannabis.” 

The report notes that cannabis and alcohol are different, and not every dollar spent on legal cannabis is a dollar taken from alcohol. Nonetheless, it warns that it is critical for beverage alcohol companies to prepare today to meet consumers’ needs as these markets continue to mature and overlap.

In Europe, Pernod Ricard CEO Alexandre Ricard said at the company's recent financial results that it is monitoring the continued legalisation of cannabis in the US.