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Has Cannabis Changed Alcohol and Cigarette Consumption?

Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

There have been high hopes for the evolving cannabis industry. One interesting assumption about the changes we might see in consumption patterns in the U.S. is that cannabis legalization and consumption would lead to less consumption of alcohol and cigarettes nationwide.

A study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy used U.S. state tax receipt data to determine how or if medical or recreational cannabis legalization impacts alcohol or cigarette consumption. The researchers for this study examined changes in state-level per capita alcohol or cigarette consumption from all 50 U.S. states. They utilized state tax receipts maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and took into consideration indicators for medical and recreational legalization policies.

The results were mixed but show promise. Both medical and recreational policies were associated with significantly decreased per capita cigarette sales compared to states with no medical cannabis policy but, according to the study, this may also be a result of other time-varying characteristics of legalization states, rather than cannabis policy. Further studies are necessary.


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