Pubdate: Mon, 18 Dec 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Antonella Artuso
Page: 6


Will weed be the new booze?

Will a culture so tied to alcohol switch allegiance once recreational
cannabis is readily and legally available?

A recent study out of the University of Connecticut looked at alcohol
sales in jurisdictions with medical marijuana, and found the two
substances to be substitutes, with monthly booze sales falling 13%.

A 2016 Deloitte study predicted some alcohol consumers will migrate to
legal recreational marijuana.

Dan Malleck, associate professor in Health Sciences at Brock
University, said the U.S. study looked at medical marijuana, and the
findings suggest that people are switching if they're using alcohol to
self-medicate for conditions like stress.

However, societies have been developing symbols around alcohol
consumption for thousands of years, he said.

"So raising a glass or buying rounds, or things like that, are just
not something that has a parallel within cannabis consumption,"
Malleck said. "Cannabis is about sharing the joint or sitting around
in a room smoking and talking. It's got it's own culture with it and,
I think, that is partly because of the way it's consumed and partly
because of the I guess surreptitiousness around how it had to be
consumed under prohibition.

"But I don't think that we will see it replacing like 'raising a

The Ontario government is certainly not concerned about any impact on
alcohol sales.

Asked if his ministry has evaluated any potential changes to alcohol
revenues in a legal pot world, a spokesperson for Finance Minister
Charles Sousa replied, succinctly, "no."

Of course, the fact that the Ontario government has full control of
both alcohol and cannabis sales in the province ensures it wins
whichever way the consumer bends.

The 2017 Ontario budget projects "stronger overall performance" from
the LCBO, even without its expansion into selling recreational marijuana.

Marijuana use is usually viewed from a public health point of view as
less dangerous than alcohol, Malleck said.

It doesn't tend to lead to binging or other negative behaviours
associated with alcohol use, he said.

"People who smoke weed in general tend to be less violent, less rowdy,
sitting around giggling," he said.

Under the legalization framework, though, recreational pot cannot be
consumed in public places like bars.

Also, from a law and order perspective, the technology to detect drug
impaired driving is not as sophisticated as that aimed at drunk
drivers, he said.

Malleck said he would have supported selling recreational marijuana at
regular LCBO stores but some citizens and "histrionic" public health
types objected.

"It's like a legitimate high versus what some people still see as an
illegitimate high in cannabis," Malleck said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt