In the U.S., 9 states and the district of Washington, D.C. legalized recreational marijuana. Moreover, many more states are legalizing CBD, the element of cannabis that relaxes makes users but not high. Although not legal in all states, weed is more accepted nationwide since decriminalization in those 10 jurisdictions.
A 2017 Yahoo News poll found that most of the 55 million recreational pot users in the U.S. are millennials born between 1981 and 2000. Most reported using cannabis in a similar way to alcohol – socially, consequently, only 25% smoke without friends.
Meanwhile, drinking alcohol may be on the decline among millennials. The number of university students drinking alcohol daily fell from 6.5% in 1980 to 4.3% in 2016 to 2.2% in 2017, according to America from the Monitoring the Future Study.
A new future in consumption
Recreational cannabis is a $10 billion industry, whereas alcohol is currently a $58 billion a year industry. But millennials’ attitudes are starting to change around drinking, and their dollars will follow. Many complain of alcohol hangovers and expenses, contrary to pot’s fewer side effects and lower cost.
Millennials are consuming cannabis, and investing in it
Millennials may also be more willing to invest in the sector than older investors. As the young are often more liberal and open to change, they may also be putting their investing dollars where their mouths are. They were in part the investor base that sent Canadian cannabis company Tilray Inc. flying up 179% in September.
Millennials want individual, authentic products
Millennials are choosing more individualized alcohol brands, and that has helped the weed industry too. As millennials become pickier in their tastes, they tend to decrease the volume consumed and increase the perceived quality. They’re drinking wines, craft beers and cocktails, and not liters of mixed alcohol just to get drunk.
Marijuana producers individualize their product, and it could easily replace alcohol as a relaxant. Data shows that when that happens, alcohol sales decrease, as found by researchers at Georgia State. conducted in 2017.
Aware of the shift, beverage companies are getting onboard. Many of the biggest beverage companies are looking for pot company partners, as rumors surround weed companies like Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ: ACBFF) (TSX: ACB.TO).
The cannabis market will only grow
While the new cannabis industry is not reserved for the young, their dollars may be the most important. In fact, older Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers.
Many young professionals are also buying cannabis products seeking low-dose effects as well.
But pot still has some detractors still
So is this the signal of a future watershed? Perhaps, but the general attitude toward marijuana is still that it is a drug that is bad.
While the figure is decreasing, 34.3% of Americans felt there is a “great risk” to smoking marijuana once or twice per week (down from 51% in 2002).