By Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017
© George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

A conventional stereotype would be that some people are drinkers and some people are stoners and that’s pretty much that. But a new report suggests that, given the option to legally get high, some people are swapping out their beer swilling for a toke or two because in states that have legalized marijuana, beer sales are in decline. Either that, or maybe some people just got too high to find the liquor store.

According to a new analysis from financial services firm Cowen and Company first cited by Brewbound, legalized marijuana is directly responsible for an underperformance in the beer business in the states of Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Additionally, the report states that “the magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably” over the past two years compared to the overall US beer market.

“While (marijuana) retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016,” Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst specializing in the beverage, tobacco and cannabis sectors, is quoted as writing. “This is perhaps not surprising, given that U.S. government data for the states of CO, WA and OR all show consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds,” she continued, “coupled with declines in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).”


On the surface, this news would be especially surprising since these three states are considered three of the nation’s leaders in America’s craft beer renaissance. However, interestingly, Azer says that though craft beer sales are also slowing, the “biggest drag” on beer sales in these states is from mainstream brands. Premium domestic brands like Bud Light and Coors Light have seen volumes fall 4.4 percent. Comparatively, craft beer sales in Oregon and Washington are simply seeing slower growth.

Certainly some people will always prefer one buzz over the other, but if brews and buds really are competing for business, it might change the ways breweries market their products. For instance, they could make the label look cooler under a blacklight.