Study: Beer Sales in Canada Fell 2.8% After Cannabis Legalization

A study indicates that beer sales in Canada dropped significantly following the legalization of adult-use cannabis, with a notable decline in canned and kegged beer but not in spirits or bottled beer, suggesting a possible consumer shift from beer to cannabis.

Full story after the jump.

Beer sales in Canada fell by 96 hectoliters per 100,000 population immediately after adult-use cannabis legalization and by 4 hectoliters per 100,000 population each month thereafter, resulting in an average monthly reduction of 136 hectoliters per 100,000 population post cannabis legalization in the nation, according to a study published last month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. All provinces except the Atlantic provinces experienced a decline in beer sales. 

Using data on beer sales between January 2012 and February 2020 and spirits sales between January 2016 and February 2020, the researchers found no change in spirits sales or sales of bottled beer but found reductions in the sales of canned and kegged beer. Canada legalized cannabis for adult use nationwide in October 2018. 

“Although the magnitude of decline in beer sales appears to be modest, it is economically meaningful. Compared with the total beer sales in September 2018 (before the legalization) of 4,842 hectoliters per 100,000 population, the average monthly decline of 136 hectoliters per 100,000 population by February 2020. represents a 2.8% decline in sales.” — Association Between Non-Medical Cannabis Legalization and Alcohol Sales: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Canada, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2/27/24 

The researchers, from the University of Manitoba College of Pharmacy, Memorial University of Newfoundland School of Pharmacy, and University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, concluded that the study suggests the consumers “may be substituting non-medical cannabis for beer.” 

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