Millennials & Alcohol: Why Young Adults Prefer Cannabis

Across North America, millennials are cutting back on beer, and choosing cannabis instead. As a generation, millennials have a reputation for disrupting the status quo, and have been unfairly accused of “killing industries.” On the contrary, young adults just have different priorities than Generation X and baby boomers.

Market trends indicate millennials are more dedicated to authenticity, connectivity, and demonstrated value than older generations, and the emerging legal cannabis market has proven a perfect testing ground for these values.

Here are the reasons more millennials are choosing cannabis over alcohol:

Millennials are Drinking Less

Millennials are far from a sober generation. A large percentage of millennials still drink alcohol on a regular basis, but opt for craft beer and wine instead. In 2015, millennials drank 159.6 million cases of wine, and craft beer has been a staple of the generation.

When compared to baby boomers and Generation X, however, millennials are far less interested in alcohol. Especially domestic, mass-produced lagers like Budweiser and Coors.

“Millennials drink far less alcohol than past generations, an annual national survey of 50,000 adolescents and young adults in America from the Monitoring the Future Study found. The share of college students who drink alcohol daily fell from 4.3% in 2016 to 2.2% in 2017, a drop of more than four percentage points from the 6.5% of college students who used alcohol daily in 1980.” –MarketWatch

There have always been shifts in priorities from generation to generation, but the legalization of cannabis has presented an alluring shift that aligns with millennial values. According to a ten-year study by the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University, purchases of wine and beer decreased by 15% in counties with legal cannabis.

Born in Time for Legalization

When you consider the age of millennials, who are born between 1981 and 1996, they came of age during a time of cannabis discovery. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996, and millennials would see dozens of states follow suit in the following decades. As young adults, this generation witnessed the 2012 legalization of recreational cannabis in Washington and Colorado.

As an age group renowned for hating fakeness and loving authenticity, it’s no wonder why millennials are seeing right through the misinformation and embracing cannabis as a lifestyle.

Price Considerations

It’s no secret that millennials have accrued less wealth than earlier generations. A study by the Federal Reserve Board indicates millennials account for a very small percentage of real estate ownership and new car sales. The median millennial has a mere $2,430 in savings, and are still feeling the effects of the 2008 recession.

Millennials have discovered that cannabis is more cost-effective than alcohol. Where a night’s bar tab might send a millennial back $50 for a few hours of fun, many cannabis users can stretch $20 of cannabis over an entire month. A purchased pre-rolled joint could really take the financial edge off a night out with friends, as compared to a night out at the bars. Additionally, with the variety of cultivars and products available, cannabis users are able to customize their experience like never before.

Also worth noting is the millennial love of the sharing economy. While 25% of millennials consume cannabis alone, most are social cannabis users. The tendency to share cannabis flower makes the cannabis lifestyle more affordable in the long run.

A Health-Conscious Generation

All the data about prices and diminishing demand for low-quality beer doesn’t address the core reason millennials are choosing cannabis.
They like the effects.

As a distinctly creative generation, millennials are choosing marijuana to stir their imaginations and expand consciousness, as opposed to dulling their pain, getting sloppy, or even getting into a fight. The increasing sophistication in cannabis cultivation has led to cultivars that enhance abstract thought, without the depressant effects of alcohol (not to mention the nasty hangovers).

Millennial Anxiety

The ACHA has recently revealed 30% of millennials live with generalized anxiety, and have been labeled “The Most Anxious Generation.”

With the financial strains of this age group, paired with the onslaught of non-stop exposure to technology, who could blame them for feeling despair? Very likely, millennials have discovered and experienced the correlation between alcohol consumption and anxiety. Whether it’s a hangover that affects work performance or a long descent into alcoholism, daily drinking has been shown to exacerbate anxiety issues.

Though consuming an excess of cannabis can cause anxiety, cannabis is actually recommended by doctors to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and other anxiety issues. Whereas alcohol may provide temporary relief but make your anxiety worse, cannabis has been shown as an effective medication for long-term relief in PTSD, clinical depression, anxiety issues, and beyond.

Learn More About Recreational and Medical Cannabis

Knowledge is power when it comes to cannabis. Though more young adults are choosing cannabis, and research has come a long way in the past years, knowing as much as you can about cannabis empowers you to find the cultivars and products that fit your personal needs. Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest in cannabis advancement, culture, and research.

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