Four reasons why cannabis is disrupting the alcohol industry in the USA


Finally, Lukas noted that “the buzz” isn’t the only thing cannabis is known for, especially in states like California where the drug has been prescribed as a medical treatment for some years.

“People use it to treat their anxiety, they use it for muscle pain, they use it for a lot of holistic reasons that just don’t apply to alcohol,” she said.

“Put it this way, if someone told you they were self-medicating their anxiety with alcohol, you’d be worried about them.”

While the NHS’s guidelines on cannabis point towards a high risk of developing psychological problems later in life, researchers in the US are more optimistic about the drug. In fact Keith Villa, the ex-Miller Coors executive who created Blue Moon beer, recently launched a brewing company of his own which makes alcoholic beers infused with THC. Villa told me earlier this year that people see these products as healthier because removing the alcohol lowers their calorie count. While the average 330ml bottle of lager contains around 150 calories, Villa’s psychoactive drinks come in at just 50.

It is marijuana’s ability to form part of a healthier day-to-day lifestyle that makes Lukas think it can threaten the alcohol industry.

Furthermore, different strains of the drug’s chemical compounds can create different psychoactive experiences for consumers. Villa’s beers will not just be lighter than the average lager, they will come in different strength levels and can be suitable for different occasions. The lighter versions, which use less THC, are intended to “energise” drinkers and are best suited for a party, while the stronger versions are intended to be enjoyed at home.

“It’s a much bigger picture than just getting a buzz,” Lukas said.

“I think we’re going to see more targeted products based on the desired experience, whether that’s to relax or party, and messaging that speaks to a variety of consumers.”

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