Young people are more likely to try cannabis than alcohol first
Young people are now more likely to try using cannabis before drinking alcohol, according to new research.
A study published by the Prevention Science has found that increased exposure to cannabis as a recreational drug could lead to a decline in sales of beer, wine, and spirits, as well as decreasing cigarette sales.
The study said that the US’ recently-relaxed state laws around cannabis use could “lead to increases in youth (using) marijuana before other types of substances such as alcohol and tobacco.”
Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development looked at the lifestyles of more than 275,000 people aged from 12 to 21 years old between 2004 and 2014, and asked them about their drinking, smoking, cannabis and illicit drug use habits.
The data showed that in 2004, 4.8% of respondents cited cannabis as the first drug they dabbled in. But by 2014, when recreational cannabis use was legalised in Colorado and Washington, while dozens of states relaxed their own laws on both medical and recreational use, this number had almost doubled to 8%.
Furthermore, those who opted to try cannabis before alcohol or cigarettes were more likely to become heavy users in later life.
On the other hand, the study also found that those who tried cannabis before anything else were more likely to abstain from all substances when they were older, Brian Fairman, one of the researchers behind the study, said.
“We also observed a significant increase in youth abstaining from substance use altogether which rose from 36% to 46%.
However, he added, it is “unclear the degree to which increases in those initiating marijuana first could be due to youth abstaining or delaying cigarettes.”
This isn’t the first time experts have warned that the newly legalised cannabis market is ousting alcohol. Boucard Nesin, drinks analyst at Rabobank, warned the drinks business in January that the cannabis market could deliver a heavy blow to the US’s wine industry.
A 2017 Marist/Yahoo News poll asked respondents, “If the federal government legalised marijuana would you… buy and use marijuana?”
Every demographic group expected their marijuana consumption to rise, but the rise was especially significant among women and older, wealthier consumers — one of the wine industry’s target audiences.
Nesin said: “Marijuana is not going to replace wine with dinner. If you are eating steak-frites, chances are you are still reaching for a Cabernet.
“Marijuana is really competing for the relaxation-indulgence occasion and social occasion. A ‘vape’ could replace the glass of wine after a long day’s work, and a box of marijuana-infused chocolates could replace the bottle of wine brought to a friend’s house party.”