Alcohol sales plunge in states with legal weed (and fewer people use hard drugs)

The small business proceedings of a local marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon.

For decades anti-drug activists have peddled the idea that weed is a ‘gateway drug’ – and one puff on a joint will probably lead to you injecting heroin a few months down the line.


But the reality is actually rather different, according to researchers from the University of Connecticut – with alcohol sales dropping in American states with medical marijuana. The researchers found that states with medical marijuana showed a 15% reduction in booze sales – based on on Nielsen Retail Scanner sales data from 90 chains. That’s based on ten years of data – and leads to the conclusion that people ‘substitute’ alcohol for weed when it’s legalised, Forbes reports.

Previous research also suggested that states which legalise weed see fewer people using hard drugs such as opiate painkillers. American states which have legalised marijuana for medical use have seen fewer drivers in fatal car accidents test positive for opiate painkillers. Alcohol sales plunge in states with legal weed (and fewer people use hard drugs)The researcher says the study shows that, ‘in states with medical marijuana laws, fewer individuals are using opioids.’ Lead author June Kim said, ‘We would expect the adverse consequences of opioid use to decrease over time in states where medical marijuana use is legal, as individuals substitute marijuana for opioids in the treatment of severe or chronic pain.’