Financially speaking, marijuana is a long way from replacing alcohol as America’s legal drug of choice, in part because pot is legal in less than a tenth of U.S. states, but that doesn’t mean the beer industry isn’t keeping tabs on what’s going in with that other popular intoxicants—and maybe even starting to worry a bit.
According to Quartz, the “rise of marijuana” was a surprisingly “major talking point” at the Beer Industry Summit in New Orleans this week, with part of the issue being predictions that sales of legalized dope might take away from the business of slinging suds.
From a numbers standpoint, beer looks like it has little to stress over. Though U.S. marijuana sales have risen since 2012, estimates for 2016 are in the $4 billion range. By comparison, beer brings in around $100 billion each year. But the marijuana industry believes it potentially has an ace up its sleeve, pushing pot as a healthier and safer alternative to drinking. “If people are replacing some amount of alcohol with cannabis consumption, it is a net positive for public health,” Taylor West of the National Cannabis Industry Association told Quartz.
That said, research continues into whether or not getting stoned is actually healthier than getting hammered. And apparently little data seems to exist on whether marijuana sales in states where it’s legal are actually cutting into beer sales.
“Given the relative sizes of the two markets,” West said, “I don’t see cannabis taking over beer anytime soon.” Exactly—because everyone knows stoners and drinkers run in different crowds. Drinkers think the film version of The Wall sucks, and stoners don’t care about trying to figure out where you left your credit card.