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Step aside alcohol. There’s a new weedy vice in town

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Over the course of the past decade, the public perception of adult recreational cannabis use has shifted dramatically.

Ever since Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use back in 2012, it’s been no secret that it could create a financial windfall for both cannabis businesses and the state itself.

A decade later, multiple other U.S. states have followed in the footsteps of the Centennial State in allowing their citizens to purchase cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol or liquor.

Although the assumption was that recreational marijuana sales would start off strong, experts couldn’t have predicted its demand would be as high as it has been. Here are a few key indicators that indicate alcohol is no longer ruler of the vice kingdom.

 

People are seeking new alternatives to alcohol

No one has been caught more off guard by the high demand for cannabis products than beer, wine and liquor companies. Sales tax revenue for alcohol has been surpassed by those of recreational marijuana.

According to David Feldman, CEO of Skip Intro Advisors, a strategic consulting firm for up-and-coming cannabis brands, there are numerous reasons why tax revenue for cannabis has surpassed alcohol.

“Some states’ tax rates on marijuana sales are higher than that of alcohol, so this differential may partially reflect that,” Feldman explained. “That said, it is an important milestone to see cannabis tax revenue exceed that of alcohol, as it appears more people are turning to cannabis as an alternative to more addictive products like alcohol and pain products,” he added.

Numbers don’t lie

The idea that people are seeking alternatives to alcohol is demonstrated by the fact that only 60 per cent of U.S. adults reported drinking alcoholic beverages this year, which is down several percentage points from a decade ago when it reached as high as 67 per cent.

Over the course of the past decade, the public perception of adult recreational cannabis use has shifted dramatically. That’s led to cannabis usage heading in the complete opposite direction of alcohol use, which is one of the main reasons it has surpassed alcohol in sales tax revenue. In fact, research shows that roughly 22 million Americans use cannabis each month.

Further demonstrating the U.S.’s continued gravitation towards cannabis as an alternative to alcohol is that more studies predict the rate of Americans who’ve at least tried marijuana will surpass 50 per cent soon.

Both Washington state and California are current examples of how nationwide legalization of cannabis could lead to alcohol playing second fiddle for good.California, for example, collected US$369,028,000 in revenue from alcohol sales, compared to more than $1 billion in tax revenue from cannabis sales. The state of Washington happened to collect more than US$229.4 million in sales tax revenue for cannabis products than it did for alcoholic products during the latest fiscal year. That trend shows no signs of slowing down.

According to data received from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Bureau, sales tax revenue from cannabis products nearly tripled those of alcoholic products. While total sales tax revenue from alcohol was around US$18,500,00, sales tax revenue for cannabis products totaled more than US$46,503,315. The question is whether or not these sales tax figures will remain the same after the market for recreational cannabis starts to mature.

Will cannabis’s reign as king last as long as alcohol?

After prohibition ended, alcohol was the substance of choice for several decades. The peak of America’s alcohol consumption occurred during the mid-to-late 1970s when more than 70 per cent of people reported being drinkers. In the near century after the end of alcohol prohibition, those in the U.S. were likely overdue for a new vice to catch their attention and, subsequently, their wallets.

As marijuana prohibition is now in its final phases, a question that’ll boggle the minds of cannabis users for years to come is what will be the substance of choice that threatens the crown that cannabis took from alcohol.

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