Now that recreational cannabis is legal for Canadians to buy and use, a considerable number of people say they'll likely drink less alcohol as a result, providing dispensaries and retailers with an idea of how to better advertise their products, adding interesting facts to blank labels.
In a recent poll conducted by Global News, 45 per cent of respondents said they will likely consume fewer alcoholic beverages with marijuana now legal for them to use in all 10 provinces.
"45% will likely consume fewer alcoholic beverages with cannabis legalised."
Jason Busse, associated director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medical Cannabis Research at McMaster University, told the publication that in terms of what's better for them – cannabis or alcohol – Canadians would be wise to follow through with their expectations.
"When you look at the evidence we do have, it does seem to appear that alcohol is more risky than cannabis," Busse explained. "You can drink yourself to death. You can binge drink and die fairly quickly. It doesn't happen often but it does happen.
Conversely, there's no such thing as a fatal overdose of cannabis.
Although close to half of respondents said they will likely drink fewer beverages containing alcohol, saying it and doing it are two different things. Ipsos Public Affairs Vice President Jennifer McLeod Macey, for one, isn't convinced, noting to Global News that intentions and actions frequently conflict.
The warning labels affixed to marijuana may also deter some "on the fence" cannabis users from spending. As noted by The New York Times, Canadian officials mandate that licenced dispensaries place health warnings and labels to cannabis products and paraphernalia. Additionally, promotional material must be strategically placed so children cannot see them.
In other words, because of the still sensitive nature of cannabis consumption and selling, Canadians who are contemplating experimentation may ultimately decide it's not for them.
Moderation Is Key
However, health experts say it's all about moderation, as virtually anything in excess isn't good for you. Dr. Peter Selby of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health told Global News that how much and where cannabis is used are important considerations.
"If somebody had a joint, and even if they were hallucinating or getting paranoid, but they were at home, safe, had somebody with them – pretty much that would pass, and you wouldn't come to too much harm," Selby stated.
The same standard applies with alcohol, noting that drinking to excess is not recommended, but the adverse effects are tempered in the privacy of home. Drinking or smoking to excess should never be done in public when others may be hurt, such as operating a motor vehicle in an intoxicated state.
If forced to choose between cannabis and alcohol, Selby and Busse say the former is the safer substance, particularly from a long-term well-being standpoint.
"I think if you take a look at the addictiveness from use and from long-term, then clearly the harms associated from alcohol far outweigh those associated with cannabis," Selby told the publication.
Quarterly Cannabis Sales Underwhelming
Although it's early in the going, cannabis sales aren't meeting expectations. In the third quarter, receipts totaled a combined $1.7 million in recreational pot, MarketWatch reported. That's well below the $1 billion Statistics Canada forecast earlier this year.
In addition to analyzing their point of sales data, retailers may want to revisit their labeling strategy, making sure to reference particulars about their cannabis offerings that appeal to buyer interest while staying within the bounds of marketing regulations established by the government.