As the movement to legalize recreational marijuana gains steam in Michigan, many craft breweries have started to take notice.
On their minds is a key concern: Would legalizing pot negatively affect sales of craft beer?
It’s a question — speculated about in states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana — that market experts say has no clear answer at this point based on available data.
Moreover, some West Michigan craft brewers welcome the idea, seeing a path for increased business and the potential to marry the two products and cultures.
“I don’t believe it will have any immediate profound effect on our business or industry directly, but in the long run may add to it as opposed to take from our industry,” said Seth Rivard, co-founder of Rockford Brewing Co. “In my personal experience, there is a ‘high’ correlation of crossover in the demographics between craft-beer lovers and pot lovers. If pot use does grow over time because of legalization, we’ll probably see an uptick in craft beer fans as well.”
Rivard — who supports marijuana legalization because it is “safer than alcohol, hands down” — added that Rockford Brewing “would consider a 420 happy hour with half-off munchies and dank brew! The craft beer industry is already well connected to the Mary Jane culture.”
After Michigan voters approved cannabis for medical use in 2008, advocates in recent years have launched ballot initiatives to legalize recreational use for adults. However, the question hasn’t yet made it to voters. MILegalize, which spearheaded an effort in 2015, failed to gather enough signatures in the required timeframe to make the ballot. Earlier this year, though, the group backed a similar effort now being led by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which said in late July