Marijuana: The “California Sober” Approach to Addiction
“So I’m California sober as they say,
And lately I can’t find no other way.
I can’t stay out and party like I did back in the day,
So I’m California sober as they say…”
Those lyrics are from a 2023 country rock song, “California Sober,” by Willie Nelson and Billy Strings.
California Sober is urban slang that generally refers to abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, but with the exception of marijuana.
To what extent has marijuana flipped the narrative about drugs and booze? Weed has gone from Reefer Madness to… Reefer Gladness.
Below, I explain how marijuana is addressing the opioid scourge, entering the mainstream of pain management, and becoming a substitute for alcohol.
Cannabis is increasingly viewed as a highly effective way to not only alleviate physical pain, but also fight addiction to liquor and deadly drugs such as opioids. Indeed, marijuana is far less toxic than many of the drugs routinely prescribed by doctors.
Perceptions of what constitutes “sober” have become more flexible, especially as younger people turn their backs on the Dean Martin/Don Draper ethos of heavy drinking and replace cocktails with pot and psychedelics.
Alcohol consumption among America’s youth has been dropping dramatically, according to national polling. In a 2023 Gallup poll, 62% of adults under age 35 said they drink, down from 72% in 2000.
Ironically, marijuana is viewed by more and more people as a cure for addiction.
An average of 38 people die each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, totaling more than 14,000 deaths annually. The most dangerous drug pusher isn’t your local marijuana seller; it’s the health-industrial complex.
The legalization of marijuana in the U.S. has been accelerating, particularly for medical cannabis. As of this writing, 24 states and the District of Columbia are home to adult-use (i.e., recreational) cannabis markets, while 38 states have established medical markets.
We’re witnessing a Golden Age of scientific research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. New reports attesting to the health benefits of pot are continually coming to light. Patients with chronic ailments and diseases that are unresponsive to conventional therapies are increasingly looking to marijuana as an alternative. That’s especially true in relation to invasive and addictive therapies.
These trends are confirmed by recent research conducted by New Frontier Data.
The majority of the marijuana market encompasses adult-use consumers, but the number of registered medical cannabis patients in currently legalized states is exploding. According to New Frontier Data, the number of medical pot users in the U.S. is on track to reach 4.9 million by 2025.
No Time for the Pain
New Frontier Data reveals that medical cannabis users are not only resorting to pot for pain management but also making the substance an integral part of conventional therapies. The trend is occurring in tandem with the increasing preference of Americans for marijuana over alcohol.
As such, cannabis poses a threat to the market share of Big Pharma and has the potential to undercut sales of non-marijuana blockbuster drugs. That’s a problem for the major drug companies but a huge opportunity for marijuana investors. It’s a trend you need to watch, in your efforts to find the right marijuana investment.
Global consumer food and beverage conglomerates have been buying stakes in smaller marijuana firms, to offer a panoply of pot-infused products (e.g., cannabis beer). Big Tobacco is trying to make up for declining cigarette sales by increasing its exposure to marijuana. We’re seeing nothing less than a cultural revolution, with marijuana in the vanguard.
According to New Frontier Data, pain management is the number one application cited by medical cannabis consumers as motivation for pot use, coming in at 59% of respondents (see chart).
Reams of medical research from a multitude of sources underscore the value of cannabis as an analgesic and anti-nausea remedy. What’s more, with the epidemic of deadly opioid addiction over the past two decades, medical cannabis has shown promise as an alternative, non-addictive (and non-deadly) technique for pain management.
New Frontier asked medical cannabis consumers whether they’ve substituted specific conventional pharmaceutical prescriptions with marijuana. For consumers indicating that they were prescribed opioids for pain management, 48% reported having replaced some of their prescribed medication with cannabis; 7% indicated replacing all of their prescribed medications.
Among consumers prescribed non-opioid analgesics, 38% said they had replaced some of their prescribed medication, while 11% replaced all prescribed medications with cannabis.
New Frontier also asked medical cannabis consumers whether using pot had helped their disease or ailment. The majority of medical cannabis consumers reported in the affirmative: More than half (52%) of medical consumers said that their medical condition had improved significantly with the use of cannabis, with an additional 41% indicating that their respective medical condition had improved slightly.
New Frontier’s results come on top of an increasing body of research proving that medical cannabis accessibility significantly reduces statewide opioid use and even opioid deaths.
Cannabis Versus Liquor
For recreational purposes, marijuana is supplanting booze. An international investment bank recently reported that marijuana has become a “formidable competitor” to alcohol, forecasting that nearly 20 million more people will regularly consume cannabis over the next five years as booze sheds a couple of million of drinkers.
An analysis from the firm TD Cowen says marijuana sales nationwide reached $29 billion in 2023, which is approximately 11% of what the alcohol industry generated. That’s up from 4% just five years ago, and marijuana is expected to grow by another 7% annually over the next five years.
The TD Cowan report, released in January 2024, is titled: “Cannabis Beats Booze.” The report asserts:
“We believe that over the next five years, the cannabis category will add 18 million past-month consumers, while alcohol will lose two million past-month consumers, as consumers increasingly embrace cannabis and temper their alcohol consumption.”
Of course, some health professionals advise caution about these trends. They emphasize that self-medicating can be dangerous and for many addicted people, abstinence is the only safe and effective path.
That said, as the medical and health benefits of marijuana become all too clear, an increasing number of states are legalizing cannabis. On the federal level, several bills are pending in Congress to lift the federal ban on pot.
The upshot: Cannabis investments are a must for your portfolio. However, the trick is finding the right pot stocks. Some cannabis stocks are stellar investments. Many others are not. You need to conduct due diligence. The good news is, I’ve done the homework for you.
If you want to tap the massive profits up for grabs, I urge you to read my book: The Wide World of Weed and Psychedelics. The product of years of painstaking research, my book is available for online ordering. We’ll deliver a hard copy right to your door!
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The culture war over marijuana is about to be settled, once and for all…in marijuana’s favor. Legalization on the federal level is inevitable. It’s just a matter of when…and 2024 is shaping up to be the breakout year for weed.
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John Persinos is the editor-in-chief of the premium trading service, Marijuana Profit Alert.
This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.