How Legalized Weed Is Affecting the Booze Biz

The Guardian analyzes the impact in Colorado
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2015 7:06 PM CDT
Weed Is Killing the Booze Biz? Not So Much
A customer shops at an alcohol store.   (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

So alcohol and marijuana aren't exactly at odds after all. Eighteen months since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana sales, alcohol sales there continue to grow—despite initial fears that weed would drive away booze buyers, the Guardian reports. "We’ve just seen phenomenal growth" at Mr B’s Wine & Spirits in Denver, says store manager Justin Martz. Many in the alcohol business were concerned, but he says "it’s really turned out to be a non-issue," and "if anything it’s kind of helped us. A high tide lifts all boats." Colorado tax records concur, showing that while marijuana sales have risen nearly 300% from last year to this, booze excise taxes are up 2.1%, same as the year before.

This after alcohol and marijuana reps battled fiercely in the debate over legalization. The liquor manufacturer that produces major brands like Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels warned about it in an SEC filing, and some academic research agreed—including a study that saw alcohol consumption falling in states that allowed medical marijuana. "They're smart to worry about it," a study co-author told the Denver Post last year. "The best they can hope for is no impact." So are people enjoying a drink or two with their weed? Hard to say, but Colorado also saw increased tourism in 2014, the first year of marijuana legalization; more than 71 million tourists came and spent $18.6 billion, the Post reports. "Legalization adds to the overall draw," Martz tells the Guardian. (Read more marijuana legalization stories.)

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