The recent wave of adult-use marijuana legalization across the U.S. has the potential of generating $22 billion in annual sales, but not everyone is thrilled about this development. New research that will soon be published in the Marketing Science journal shows that the alcohol industry is likely to take a hit once marijuana is legalized.
The research was done by Pengyuan, an assistant professor at the Terry College of Business (University of Georgia). He worked with Guiyang Xiong from Syracuse University.
The duo analyzed online search data taken from one of the leading web portals based in the U.S. In total, they crunched the numbers on 120 million ad impressions and 28 million anonymous searches done using this portal. The data in question covered the period January 2014 to April 2017.
The research revealed that the number of online searches done for alcohol reduced by almost 11 percent while the searches for tobacco and its products saw an increase of 8 percent.
The tobacco and alcohol industries are worth a total of $300 billion in the U.S. alone. While these two industries have been vehemently opposed to the legalization of cannabis, this research shows that the tobacco industry would be well advised to revisit their opposition to legal marijuana since opposing the advance of cannabis isn’t in their best interest.
However, the alcohol industry is justified (from an existential point of view) to oppose the onward march of legal marijuana across the country since a law legalizing marijuana at the federal level would see a major decline in the sales of alcohol. The industry therefore has to think fast and come up with ways to retain their customers if they want to retain as much of their market share as possible.
Interestingly, while this research revealed that the legalization of adult-use marijuana in a state causes 17 percent more adults to conduct online searches on marijuana, the number of people who are less than 19 show a reduced interest in marijuana (or at least they perform fewer online searches on the substance).
This again serves to dispel another perception that the legalization of recreational cannabis causes a spike in the interest shown in the substance by minors. Policymakers may therefore need to revisit their positions if they based any decisions they made upon a presumption that there will be an uptick in the number of people who show interest in the drug yet they aren’t of age.
These findings seem to make sense because pollsters have pointed out severally that many adults would opt for recreational marijuana rather than alcohol since pot doesn’t come with hangovers, weight gain and the other effects of consuming alcohol on a regular basis.
It would be interesting to know what industry players like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) are planning to do in response to the likely spike in the opposition of the alcohol industry once the findings of this research are released and the fears of the alcohol industry are confirmed.
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