The word on the street is that the beer manufacturers are keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in the world of retail cannabis, mostly because they fear that an eruption of legalization efforts across the United States (like what it is predicted to happen in 2016) may turn the American beer drinker into a loyal stoner and eat away at the profits of its over $100 billion marketplace.
Although it may seem the cannabis industry has a long way to go before it is pulling down the kind of revenue comparable to the national brew houses, some of the latest statistics show that the business of marijuana is really not far from casting a shadow on brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, and this with only a handful of states allowing recreational pot sales.
A new ArcView Market Research report finds that legal cannabis sales are expected to reach $6.7 billion in the United States before the end of 2016. Impressively, analysts predict the total market will soon surpass the National Football League (NFL) as more states legalize pot sales across the nation — giving way to a cannabis industry that does nearly $22 billion in sales by 2020.
To put this in perspective, the national craft beer market currently rakes in around $20 billion in sales, while the NFL pulls down somewhere around $12 billon.
“I think that we are going to see in 2016 this next wave of investors, the next wave of business operators, and people who’ve sort of been watching or dipping their toe in, really starting to swing for the fences and take it really seriously,” ArcView CEO Troy Dayton told Fortune.
A recent report from Quartz indicates that members of the brewing industry in attendance of last week’s Beer Industry Summit touched on the rise of cannabis sales in some of their panel discussions. Although beer drinkers are a loyal breed of consumer, the brewing industry is concerned that as more states move towards legalization, it will cause them to lose another percentage of their customer base to marijuana. They fear this loss of market share could be a real possibility because the ongoing spiel among national marijuana advocacy groups, like the Marijuana Policy Project, is that weed is a safer alternative to drinking alcohol.
And with alcohol killing in upwards of 88,000 people annually in the U.S., it makes sense that eventually some will give serious consideration to weed, as a legal and safer alternative to achieving a buzz.
It has been speculated for many years that one of the primary hang-ups for nationwide marijuana legalization is the alcohol industry. Some reports have shown that companies who generate massive profits by selling beer, wine and liquor are in bed with federal lawmakers to the tune of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, this has prevented some politicians from standing up in favor of ending pot prohibition for fear that too loud a voice might cause them to lose substantial campaign contributions, and ultimately force them out of a job as one of American’s great uncivil servants.
Still, the marijuana industry continues to grow at an impressive rate, which will eventually lend itself to becoming just as, if not more powerful that other producers of socially acceptable inebriants sold all over the United States. The only real obstacle standing in the way of cannabis competing head to head with the brewing industry is that it remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government. Once Uncle Sam finally loosens the leash on this issue, it is conceivable that that weed could one day surpass beer sales, and perhaps even be featured in advertisements during the Super Bowl.
What do you think? Will beer drinkers turn to cannabis as it becomes legal across the nation?