By Anthony Martinelli

Beer sales are down in states that have legalized cannabis, according to a new report from Cowen and Company.

The report found that sales among some of the top beer distributors have declined significantly in Colorado, Oregon and Washington; all states where the licensed distribution of cannabis is legal.

According to Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst, beer markets that have; “collectively underperformed” in the last two years in states where cannabis is legal. Azer says “the magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably” in 2016. Beer volumes have fell more than 2% year-to-date and are trailing the overall U.S. beer market.

“While (marijuana) retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time; with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure; the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016,” says Azer. “This is perhaps not surprising, given that U.S. government data for the states of CO, WA and OR all show consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds.. coupled with declines in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).”

Although the sales of craft beer have slowed, the “biggest drag” is on mainstream beer producers, with economy beer volumes down 2.4% and premium domestic volumes (including Bud Light and Coors Light) down 4.4%

Beer companies have clearly taken note of these decreases; the Beer Distributors PAC, an affiliate that represents 16 beer-distribution companies in Massachusetts, gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts to help defeat Question 4 to legalize cannabis (the initiative was approved last month)

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