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legalization | 01.01.2022

Study finds less people binge drink in states with legal weed

Cannabis could be a promising solution for America’s binge-drinking crisis.

Binge drinking in states which have legalized recreational marijuana is on the decline, according to a new study published by research firm Cowen & Company. The trend, first reported by Forbes, is clearest among the first states which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012: Colorado and Washington.

Cowen & Co found that in 2016, residents of legal recreational states chose to binge drink nine percent less per month than the national average. The report went further to compare states where marijuana is legal to those where it is not. They found that legal state residents drink 13 percent less.

The trend comes at a time when federal health officials are finding that an alarming number of Americans report binge drinking on a regular basis. In a Centers for Disease Control report released just before St. Patrick’s Day, it was found that 1 in 6 American adults binge drink at least once a week. That report defined a ‘binge’ as consuming an average of seven drinks at one time.

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A new report finds binge drinking significantly declined in states which have legalized recreational marijuana. (Photo by Paul Mansfield via Getty Images)

This average was matched in the Cowen report which found that adults in prohibition states consumed an average of 7.4 drinks per binge, while those in legal states consumed an average of 6.6.

“We have consistently argued that cannabis and alcohol are substitute social lubricants,” the Cowen report reads, but adds that, “we do not dispute that alcohol will continue to be quite popular in the U.S.”

Previous studies have predicted similar trends. In January, a working paper out of the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University found that alcohol sales declined by up to 15 percent in municipalities that embraced the legal cannabis market.

The results of this new report are mirrored by similar results recently published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization which examined crime in the state of Washington and found that cannabis legalization not only reduced binge drinking but also violent crime that may be linked to it.

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