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Legal Marijuana in Colorado Might Be Selling More Booze

Alcohol sales in Denver increased by 6.8 percent in the first half of 2014, and weed tourism might be to thank for it.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

It’s been seven months since legal marijuana went on sale in Colorado, and the good news seems to keep coming. Contrary to what some opponents of legalization claimed, crime hasn’t increased, and now beer and alcohol don’t seem to have been replaced with a taste for weed.

Alcohol sales are actually on the rise across the state, especially in Denver, which reportedly saw an increase of 6.7 percent from $7.3 to $7.8 million between January and April of this year. Though alcohol sales have been slowly increasing in the Denver area over the past few years, this most recent jump is significantly larger.


Denver's crime drop might have nothing to do with marijuana legalization. Read more here.

Sales are up about two percent across the state, according to the Beer Institute. Alcohol sales only increased by about 0.6 percent across the country during the same time period.

The state may have tourists to thank for the uptick in profit. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, 44 percent of marijuana purchased in metro areas and 90 percent purchased in more rural mountain towns was bought by visitors to the state. From weed-themed campsites to 4/20 festivals, businesses are hoping to cash in on increased tourism to the state, though it’s unclear yet just how much the business may have grown since legalization.

The most significant concern came from wine and liquor company Brown-Forman Corporation, owner of Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort, which named widespread legalization of marijuana as something to watch in a recent annual report to investors.

Over the past decade or so, Colorado has also become known as a hub for craft beer. As of 2013, the state had 151 craft breweries, third only to California and Washington. And though some companies have expressed anxiety about alcohol sales, many beer vendors don't seem to be worried.

“If they're curious enough to come to Colorado (and) take advantage of the weed industry,” Taryn Kapronica, head of sales and marketing at the Denver distillery Leopold Bros., told the Denver Post, “chances are they're exploring beer options (and) spirits options.”

As with many facets of the newly legalized drug, it's worth noting that 2014 is only half over, and available data is pretty limited.

Colorado Just Released the First Legal Marijuana Market Study. Read more here.

Follow Jordan Larson on Twitter: @jalarsonist

Photo via Flickr