During the holidays, we are often inundated with scenes, signs, and messages of alcohol drinking. What is it about this time of year that permits, or insists on drinking? Instead of the usual message, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss alcohol and Cannabis
According to data published in the journal, Health Policy, medical Cannabis in Canada was associated with a reduction in alcohol sales over an 8-year period. The results have important public health implications.
From a public health perspective, the potential reduction in alcohol related harm might partly offset any increases in cannabis-related harm that Cannabis brings.
The study found significant negative association between legal Medical Cannabis sales and liquor store alcohol sales, which means when Medical Cannabis sales increase alcohol sales go down. Each Cannabis sales dollar was associated with an average alcohol sales reduction of between $0.74 and $0.84.
The study is like a 2017 US study where alcohol sales fell by 15% in several states following the introduction of medical Cannabis laws. The states experienced a significant decrease in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer, and wine. The study authors concluded, “We feel that Cannabis and alcohol are strong substitutes.” Moreover, the effects of Medical Cannabis law are not short lived with significant reductions in sales for up to 24 months after passage.
In another study published in 2021, data from the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey suggested that adolescents had a lower risk of initiating alcohol use in states with Medical Cannabis laws. Although, some demographics used more alcohol, tending to combine it with Cannabis.
We know that Cannabis has a better safety profile than alcohol. For those who enjoy alcohol, it’s not the enemy. History indicates that prohibition is not the best way to reduce harm. I propose autonomy, acceptance, and education. As my mother likes to say, “Everything in moderation.”
Alcohol when used in appropriate doses can be safe and beneficial. As well, some alcohol might pair nicely with Cannabis for an improved experience. So, as you plan your holiday parties, remember Cannabis and Alcohol dosage matters. You can keep track of your dosage with the CESC’s Dosing Project Be safe and don’t drive intoxicated.
Jean Talleyrand, M.D.,