Some still believe the legalization of marijuana in combination with booze consumption will inevitably lead to a Babylonian society; a virtual Thunderdome where pro-pot states like Maine, Michigan, Colorado and Washington are destined to become the portal into the ninth gate of hell. While others, at least those not drowning in a moral cesspool of biblical swill, believe legalization efforts are poised to generate a wealth of positive health benefits for the social order, mainly due to the theory that if citizens are allowed to smoke weed they will, in fact, consume less alcohol.
Therefore, the question exists: Will marijuana and booze serve to compliment each other or will the newfound anti-stigmatic embrace of the American buzzard gravitate towards pot as a viable substitute to a boozehound existence?
A recent study by Montana State University economist D. Mark Anderson and University of Colorado economist Daniel Rees published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management finds that "studies based on clearly defined natural experiments generally support the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes." Interestingly, their research indicates that marijuana use appears to be more prevalent in individuals under the legal drinking age, but then tapers off significantly after a person turns 21, "suggesting that young adults treat alcohol and marijuana as substitutes."
There have also been studies published that have found substantial evidence to support that beer sales decrease in areas where medical marijuana has been legalized. Considering that, there is plenty of reason to believe that the advent of legalized recreational marijuana will have an impact of the booze industry, as well. In fact, Anderson and Rees believe that as marijuana becomes more readily available in Maine, Michigan, Colorado and Washington, more young adults will make the transition to weed and ultimately, kill fewer brain cells with beer and liquor.
However, even considering the notion that more Americans would likely rather pursue their social endeavors stoned than drunk, some analysts fear the shakedown economics surrounding marijuana legalization could prevent such a sobering revelation from happening.
Last month, the Washington State Liquor Control Board published their rules for the regulation of recreational marijuana, which serves as an economic raping of the industry by initiating a three-way tax on producers, sellers and buyers that will squeeze the marijuana marketplace to the tune of 75%. Unfortunately, buyers will incur the majority of this backbiting grudge hump.
Yesterday, in Colorado, voters approved a 15% excise tax and a 10% special sales tax on marijuana sales to be charged in addition to current sales tax figures.
Some analysts believe that the overall cost of legal marijuana will persuade the average law-biding citizen to simply maintain his or her current, affordable boozehound regimen. The current excise tax on liquor in Colorado is just over sixty-cents, which is about 3 percent of the retail price of a bottle of Jim Beam Whiskey -- a rate that is essentially 10 times less than the new tax placed on recreational marijuana.
So, will legalized marijuana rise up inside its newly established social element and become a substitute for alcohol, or will the two join forces and breed what some believe will become an even more savage civilization?
Some researchers, like UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman, argue that the worst possible scenario for marijuana legalization in combination with the current social norm of alcohol consumption will be an increase in heavy drinking, which will cause “carnage on our highways,” and a rabid influx in pot smoking teenagers.
Yet, while Anderson and Rees admit that Kleiman’s catastrophic theory is possible, it is not likely.
"Based on existing empirical evidence, we expect that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington will lead to increased marijuana consumption coupled with decreased alcohol consumption. As a consequence, these states will experience a reduction in the social harms resulting from alcohol use. While it is more than likely that marijuana produced by state-sanctioned growers will end up in the hands of minors, we predict that overall youth consumption will remain stable. On net, we predict the public-health benefits of legalization to be positive."
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.