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California beer sales may be taking a hit because of recreational pot legalization

Recreational marijuana sales may be hurting alcohol sales in California. One marijuana delivery service claims its clients are drinking less alcohol since the Proposition 64 went into effect Jan. 1. (David McNew/Getty Images)

California beer sales have recently taken a hit, and some industry experts believe recreational marijuana may be the reason for the drop.

What's the story?

Marijuana delivery service Eaze claims its clients are drinking less alcohol since the Proposition 64 went into effect Jan. 1, KPIX-TV reported. Eaze advertises pot as a hangover-free way to catch a buzz.

“I don’t think alcohol is going anywhere any time soon, but yes, I definitely would say that cannabis is curtailing alcohol consumption,” Eaze Director of Communications Sheena Shiravi told KPIX. “Of the ones who consume alcohol, 82 percent of them decreased their alcohol intake due to cannabis consumption. And 11 percent quit drinking altogether.”

But Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewer's Association, said it might be too soon to make a definitive determination on the downturn.

“California saw a 4 percent drop in beer shipments in February,” Watson said. “I think it’s certainly too early to say whether cannabis has had a direct effect on not just beer, but all alcohol sales, which are certainly related.”

Who's impacted?

The greatest impact has been on large and medium breweries, Watson said, adding that sales of spirits and beer often wax and wane depending on the era.

Craft breweries have tripled over the past five years, up from 300 breweries in 2012 to more than 900 at the end of 2017, according to the California Craft Brewers Association.

California has more craft breweries than any other state, CCBA wrote in a release.

It could take up to a decade to know the true effect of marijuana sales on all alcohol sales, Watson and Shiravi agreed.

“I think this is something that’s going to take a lot of time to sort out,” said Watson.

“Yeah, it’ll definitely take 5 to 10 years to really see the impact for alcohol versus cannabis,” agreed Shiravi.

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