Weed Is Now More Popular Than Craft Beer

In one state where both are sort of very big deals.

The craft-beer capital of the world, presuming you live in Denver and are imbued with Mile High civic pride, is obviously Colorado. So far, Colorado is also the epicenter of America’s great state-by-state experiment in normalizing marijuana. And in Colorado, normalized pot is suddenly creating more money than craft beers.

Adult-use cannabis (for those of you late to the narrative) was voted into Colorado’s legal-business sphere in 2012, with regulated and taxed sales to the over-21 public beginning on January 1, 2014. The results have been lucrative. The Marijuana Policy Group is reporting that, after a mere two years of above-board operation, the Colorado cannabis industry's economic importance has overshadowed the state’s proud craft-beer industry. 

In 2015, pot’s economic impact in Colorado—by Marijuana Policy Group calculations—topped out at $2.39 billion. That number is markedly higher than the lofty $1.7 billion in activity the Colorado Brewer’s Guild claims the state’s small and independent beer makers generated during the same year.

Weed’s dominance over a carbonated alcoholic beverage fermented in a traditional and non-mechanized way extends beyond a dollar-figure contribution to the state’s financial productivity. In tax revenue for instance, weed raised three times the amount of funds as alcohol, while supplying12,591 jobs—compared to 7,776 employment opportunities doled out by craft beer.

The latest conflict is over whether the state’s nickname should be "The Napa Valley of Beer" or "The Silicon Valley of Cannabis." 

Tensions between Colorado’s craft-beer boosters and the state’s emerging cannabis culture have been well documented. The latest conflict is over whether the state’s nickname should be "The Napa Valley of Beer" or "The Silicon Valley of Cannabis." This infighting is only exacerbated by the scrutiny Colorado is under due to its position as the country’s primary recreational-cannabis market.

All those eyeballs, of course, will be looking elsewhere come this November, if California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Prop 64 passes. After that, the professional and casual marijuana-watcher attention will be on the Golden State—home to both the Napa and Silicon valleys.

In Colorado, weed and beer can bicker over which deserves to be the highest in the Mile High State without a crowd watching.

Thanks to Denverite for turning us on.