Will legal pot dull beer's buzz? Scientists are watching closely
The consumption habits of everyday Canadians are sparking excitement amongst addictions specialists and scientists this week.
Just ahead of Canada’s official legalization of cannabis, addictions experts say the choice between wine and weed – or a beer and a blunt – could determine enormous social and health factors in the country's near future.
"The big questions to my mind is will people substitute cannabis for alcohol?” Dr. Tim Stockwell of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research told CTV News.
Addictions experts say data from some U.S. states where medical and recreational cannabis has been legalized shows alcohol sales dipped following legalization.
Stockwell, who studies addictions at the University of Victoria, says if the same happens here the social and health impacts could be monumental.
“The likelihood is we will see fewer road crashes, less violent incidents and a decreased number of certain cancers,” said Stockwell.
Ahead of legalization, the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research is delving into the impacts of reduced alcohol consumption.
Projections from the institute show if cannabis legalization reduced alcohol intake by just five per cent, roughly 800 fewer people would die of drinking-related health problems per year.
Their model also focused on hospital visits connected with alcohol consumption. Data shows it could reduce the number of hospital admissions by 6,000 nation-wide.
The institute admits health issues related to using cannabis will likely increase as alcohol factors fall.
"This is a huge day for Canada, and for research and knowledge about substance use on people," Stockwell said in anticipation of Oct. 17. "We are going to learn so much from this policy experiment."
The big question now, what will Canadian consumers choose when real choice arrives on Wednesday?