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"No impact" from cannabis legalisation on US spirits sales - study

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Cannabis legalisation has had no effect on spirits sales so far, a recent study from US trade body Distilled Spirits Council has found.

The Distilled Spirits Council said commissioned the report to counter "misinformation"

The Distilled Spirits Council said commissioned the report to counter "misinformation"

The research, which the council said was commissioned to combat "misinformation" about cannabis's effect on the alcohol industry, took an in-depth look at the three US states where recreational marijuana has been legally available for longest. According to tax and shipment data, there was no difference in spirits sales in the three-to-four years after legalisation compared to the two-year period prior. The sales also mirrored prevailing trends across the US.

"Simply put, the data shows there has been no impact on spirits sales from recreational marijuana legalisation," said Distilled Spirits Council chief economist David Ozgo, who added that examining tax data and actual shipments provides the most accurate insight into the marketplace.

Ozgo said the research would help show the facts behind the impact of recreational marijuana on distilled spirits and the wider alcohol market. Since the first US states started legalising cannabis in 2012, the alcohol industry has held concerns the drug would hamper future growth. Some analysts have predicted that it would cannibalise spirits, beer and wine sales.

The new Distilled Spirits Council data, released today, shows that in Colorado, spirits sales were strong following legalisation in 2014, up 7.6% to present day. In Washington state, which also legalised cannabis in 2014, spirits sales were up 5.4%, while in Oregon, where legalisation followed in 2015, sales climbed by 3.6%.

In comparison, beer sales were down between 2.3% and 3.6% since legalisation, although Ozgo said the declines were in-line with national averages. Wine sales, meanwhile, were mixed - Colorado's increased by 3.2%; Washington state declined 3.1%, while Oregon was up 0.7%.

A total of ten US states and the District of Columbia have legalised recreational marijuana.

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