According to research firm Cowen & Co., legal cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $75 billion by 2030, which would put it on track to surpass the current sales for non-alcoholic carbonated drinks, Bloomberg reports. The firm previously predicted that the cannabis market would reach $50 billion by 2016 – if legalized federally – but analyst Vivien Azer said that “new forecasts suggest that the market is already that size.”
She added that while legal cannabis is not a direct competitor to the soda industry, it is likely going to impact the bottom line of the alcohol industry.
“We have consistently argued that cannabis and alcohol are substitute social lubricants.” – Azer to Bloomberg
A 2017 study from the University of Connecticut, Georgia State University, and Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, found that states with medical cannabis legalization had a 13.8 percent decline on beer sales and a 16.2 percent decline on wine sales. That study, using retail scanner data, did not account for alcohol purchased at bars or otherwise outside of the retail industry.
Soft drink consumption is already at its lowest levels in 31 years, according to trade publication Beverage-Digest figures outlined by Bloomberg. Data from Euromonitor International shows that the North American soft drink market fell from 78.3 billion in 2016 to $76.4 billion last year.