Thursday, 21 March 2019 14:01

Tune in, turn on and drink less wine

Written by  Bob Campbell MW
Legalising marijuana could threaten our wine industry. Legalising marijuana could threaten our wine industry.

If New Zealand legalises medical marijuana, which seems likely, what effect is that likely to have on wine sales?

Ten states in the US have legalised marijuana for recreational use while 33 states have legalised medical marijuana. A joint study (pun unintended) by researchers at two US universities and one in South America claims a reduction in alcohol consumption in the US appears directly related to the rise in medical marijuana laws. 

Using Nielsen data from 90 alcohol chain stores between 2006 and 2015 they compared alcohol sales in states that do not have medical marijuana laws with sales in states that do have medical marijuana laws. 

Over the 10 years studied the counties located in medical marijuana states showed almost a 15 percent reduction in monthly alcohol sales. The researchers concluded that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes for each other. They share almost the same audience. 

The impact of legalised marijuana on wine sales seems likely to be considerably greater as it will be used by a far greater number of people. 

US wine consumers spent US$41.4 billion on wine in 2017. Adult recreational marijuana use is estimated to be US$7.7 billion in 2019 and US$14.9 billion by 2021.

The US is our largest wine export market. A fall in wine consumption is likely to have a negative effect on our wine exports. The legalisation of medical marijuana, and particularly recreational marijuana, could prove to be an even greater threat to our wine industry. 

Joint study:


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