Many comparisons have been made to recreational marijuana and alcohol, particularly in how advocates have recommended regulation. Although there are similarities, we know that recreational alcohol use, dependence and abuse has caused far more issues than marijuana, and evidence suggests that trend may continue, even as marijuana legalization spreads. In fact, new research indicates that legalizing marijuana may have the added benefit of reducing the impact of alcohol-related societal woes.
During alcohol prohibition, there were some major arrests made, but organized crime benefited more than anyone else from what history shows. Alcohol is a potentially dangerous and addictive drug. However, because it is generally considered socially acceptable, anyone over 21 can purchase as much alcohol as they want. This is not the case for marijuana under the laws in what is constantly becoming a smaller minority of states and the federal law.
While many people drink socially, many others drink to cope with the stress of daily life, various mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, and other forms of trauma. Even though most studies show that dependence on alcohol only makes those medical conditions worse, alcohol is often used as a form of self-medication even when it results in abuse. Alcohol also is well-known to cause liver poisoning, organ failure, and now it is suspected of causing cancer, according to a recent study that was popularized via a Netflix documentary on the same subject.
Marijuana does not have these issues, and according to a recent news article from the Washington Post, legalized medical marijuana and recreational use marijuana has been shown to reduce alcohol sales in places where it is legal. While many are now suggesting medical marijuana may be a valid alternative to dangerous opioid us that has resulted in a national crisis, it now seem that medical marijuana may be beneficial in reducing alcohol dependency by those who use it cope with mental and physical health issues.
As for the actual numbers, a working paper from two major American universities has shown that alcohol sales have dropped between 2006 and 2015 by 15 percent in states that have medical marijuana laws in place (that are actually dispensing medical marijuana). This is a major reduction in the sale of alcohol in those areas.
While some might argue that it was tied to a reduction in all sales, the study including a placebo analysis by looking at the sale of writing instruments in those same jurisdictions over the same period. This means that the reduction was separate from market trends of sales of non-related goods. For those who would argue there is no-causal link in that there was a reduction in consumer spending, including a placebo items should establish a legitimate causal link.
As our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys can explain, medical marijuana is becoming more and more acceptable in a majority of states. However, this is at the same time as the current presidential administration lead by the attorney general is trying to restart the federal crackdown on medical marijuana that we saw in the early days of legalization in California. While congress has said that no federal money can be spent fighting medical marijuana in states where it is legal, the current administration has claimed they are not bound by that directive.
This may result in a big fight in Congress, or it may not, but the best thing a person who wants to go into the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange County can do is to speak with an experienced medical marijuana attorney to make sure they are not running afoul of any state or local laws.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Law Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937- 2050.
Medical marijuana took a bite out of alcohol sales. Recreational pot could take an even bigger one., December 1, 2017, By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post
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