Colorado: Intoxication Nation

As originally published in The Guardian

Alcohol sales get higher after weed legalization contrary to industry fears

Alcohol businesses are seeing ‘phenomenal growth’ alongside marijuana industry in Colorado, dispelling concerns that consumers prefer pot over booze.

marijuana dispensary
Tax records show that alcohol sales have continued to grow in Colorado despite the rapid rise of recreational marijuana in the state. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP

Underlying the debate over marijuana legalization has been an equally fierce battle between marijuana and another so-called vice industry: alcohol.

As an increasing number of states look to join the four states and Washington DC in legalizing recreational marijuana, many in the alcohol industry have feared that legalized weed will cut into their existing profits.

But a few years into Colorado legalization, alcohol sales are up in the state, and those in the alcohol business have embraced their fellow industry.

In the 18 months since recreational sales were legalized in Colorado, “we’ve just seen phenomenal growth”, said Justin Martz, 32, who runs Mr B’s Wine & Spirits in downtown Denver. He noted that there was some concern initially about legalization, “but it’s really turned out to be a non-issue”. In fact, he said, “if anything it’s kind of helped us. A high tide lifts all boats.”

Bryan Simpson, spokesman for the Fort Collins craft brewery New Belgium, agreed that doomsayers in the alcohol industry were wrong. He argued that rather than alcohol and pot directly competing against one another for consumers’ dollars, the two can be mutually beneficial in boosting overall sales. “There’s definitely some crossover in the two communities of beer drinkers and herb enjoyers,” Simpson said. “But I don’t think people are doubling down in one category or the other.” To underscore that point, he noted that legal marijuana has had “no demonstrable impact at all in terms of sales” at New Belgium.

Tax records show that alcohol sales have continued to grow in Colorado despite the rapid rise of recreational marijuana. Even as tax revenues from marijuana nearly tripled between June 2014 through May 2015, alcohol sales continued to steadily increase as well, with alcohol excise taxes rising 2.1%, the same increase as the year prior.

This symbiotic relationship comes after the two groups went head-to-head in the fight over legalization.

Industry groups have feared that marijuana legalization would deplete interest in alcohol. “Consumer preferences and purchases may shift due to a host of factors,” including “the potential legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis within the United States,” warned the Brown-Forman Corporation, a publicly traded liquor manufacturer that produces many well-known brands including Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort, in a recent SECfiling.

Read the full article HERE

reposted by  9/1/15

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