A report by medical cannabis provider OutCo revealed that 51 percent of millennials — people born from 1982 to 2004 — preferred taking marijuana over drinking alcohol. The OutCo report, done in partnership with Monocle Research, surveyed over 2,000 marijuana users in California. The report identified several factors for the shift in preference, including safety, cost, and health. Of the different types of alcohol, beer was the most affected by this shift. Thirty-four percent of millennials who prefer cannabis shared that they would choose marijuana over beer, 18 percent said they would choose marijuana over wine, and 14 percent would choose marijuana over spirits.
This shift in preference comes as marijuana legalization becomes more commonplace in the United States and across the world.
A better alternative?
The report revealed that marijuana is perceived to be safer by millennial respondents, who showed concern over how alcohol can lead to to risky behavior, particularly drunk driving. Their fears are not without basis: the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse estimates that 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur yearly in the United States. Survey respondents also noted that alcohol can be more expensive than marijuana, with the former being subject to various taxes.
A February 2017 study by researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine found that 28 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among young people are alcohol-related. These findings were published in Pediatrics. At the same time, a December 2016 study published in American Journal of Public Health revealed that traffic fatalities appeared to drop in states that have legalized marijuana.
Respondents also showed a concern for the health implications of the substances, citing hangovers as a major health drawback when it comes to alcohol consumption. They said that while a hangover from consuming alcohol lasts throughout the following day, no such effects are felt when they take a substantial amount of marijuana.
Many studies have explored the health benefits of marijuana, including the drug’s potential to provide pain relief and alleviate anxiety and PTSD. At the same time, while marijuana has not been cleared of all health risks, it has been found to be less likely to cause a lethal overdose.
Pot of gold
Choosing marijuana over alcohol doesn’t seem to be exclusive to millennials. The Cannabiz Consumer Group (C2G) surveyed over 40,000 participants and found that 27 percent of beer drinkers have replaced beer with cannabis, or would do so if it were legal. Based on their findings, the group projected that the marijuana industry could be worth $50 billion when it fully matures.
The earning potential of marijuana is not lost on the financial big guns. In a story in Bloomberg.com, financial services firm Cowen & Co. has expressed interest in the cannabis industry, releasing studies and reports that show how it could be the next big cash cow.
Marijuana is without a doubt becoming less of a taboo, and the trend seems to continue not just in the United States but in other parts of the world. Several countries are showing a more open attitude towards the psychoactive drug: the German parliament has recently legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, while Canada may be rolling out a nationwide legalization of marijuana by July 2018.