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States with medical marijuana laws have seen a drop in alcohol sales since the legalization of marijuana.  Research looking at data from 90 alcohol chain stores from 2006 to 2015 found that sales of alcohol dropped as much as 15% following marijuana legalization in certain states.

The study looked at alcohol sales in states with medical marijuana laws versus alcohol sales in states without marijuana, as well as looking at sales in states with marijuana both before and after legalization.  Included in the data was also information on age, race, and income as those can have a strong impact on alcohol consumption.  Between 2006-2015, counties in states that legalized medical marijuana saw an almost 15% drop in monthly alcohol sales.

What can we learn from this study?  First and foremost is the correlation between alcohol use and marijuana use.  Both alcohol and marijuana are substances of addiction and can easily be substituted one for another.  As such, when marijuana becomes readily available, many alcohol users switch from regular alcohol consumption to marijuana usage.  A strong inference can be made that as more states legalize recreational marijuana, alcohol consumption in those states will begin to go down.

For employers, this causes some concerns.  As marijuana use continues to rise, how will you ensure a safe workplace?  Continue to test for marijuana in the workplace, making sure to stay up to date on court cases and laws in your state that might impact how you treat marijuana users, particularly medical marijuana card holders, in the workplace.  Consider a subscription to an online database such as that provides up-to-date and easily accessible information so that you can ensure compliance and correct information as you update and use a workplace drug testing policy.

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