Alcohol and Cannabis Competing on St. Patrick's Day

Matt Zehner

While there are Irish traditions to take part in on St. Patrick’s Day, many Americans enjoy celebrating with one activity in particular – drinking! According to analysis and projections done by WalletHub, St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular drinking day of the year, with partiers consuming an average of 4.2 drinks per person. It is also the holiday when you are most likely to find your friends sipping on a beer; over 13 million pints of Guinness is consumed worldwide, and 174% more beer is sold on St. Patrick’s Day than usual.

In addition to joining in on the St. Patrick’s Day festivities by wearing green (like 79% of all celebrators), some people may decide to partake in a more nontraditional way - by smoking green.  It wouldn't be surprising to catch a whiff of cannabis while walking through Chicago's Grant Park during St.Patrick's Day festivities, but don't be surprised to find your cannabis-toking friends sipping on a beer this holiday too; our consumer insights found mainstream beer is the alcohol of choice for most cannabis consumers. 

Cannabis vs. Alcohol at the Bar or Club

Cannabis and alcohol are not perfectly interchangeable substances and do lend themselves to different sorts of occasions. For instance, only 20% of cannabis users who are planning a big night out at a bar or club next week will choose to exclusively consume cannabis, while a plurality (48%) will choose alcohol, and 19% will ingest a mix of the two substances. Cannabis use in bars and clubs is significantly more difficult than having a drink at a bar: it involves stepping outside and usually breaking a law or two, whic is a risk not every cannabis consumer will make.

Substitution Effect Call Out-07St. Patrick's Day Dinner and Cannabis

The 28% of Americans who are planning to cook a special dinner on St. Patrick’s Day (according to WalletHub) will generally be sticking to alcohol as well. Brightfield research found that, when at dinner parties, cannabis consumers tend to prefer alcohol (42%) to cannabis (25%), while a minority pursue both simultaneously (17%). Alcohol, especially wine, is traditionally paired with dinner, especially a planned meal like a dinner party. Guests bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party could be seen as more socially acceptable than bringing a joint. 

However, 34% of survey respondents report using cannabis during a meal, while only 28% would choose alcohol. Dinner parties are more public settings than simply eating a meal (which we do 3 times a day), indicating that cannabis users are still more comfortable consuming at home. Where cannabis consumers enjoy their corned beef and cabbage this March 17 could determine if they use cannabis or not. 


Regardless of whether they choose to spend their St. Patrick’s Day drinking or smoking, survey data indicates that cannabis has a depressing effect on alcohol purchases. Following cannabis legalization 31% of cannabis consumers report they drink less than they used to. Even if total alcohol sales aren't falling, our research shows that younger cannabis consumers are the most likely to use less alcohol after cannabis legalization. So as time goes on, St. Patrick's Day celebrations could more frequently include cannabis use.

With adult-use cannabis now legal in eleven states plus the District of Columbia, consumers now have more options when it comes to intoxicants on one of the biggest party days of the year. Whether lighting up or drinking up, “green” may take on a different meaning for some this St. Patrick’s Day.


For more alcohol and cannabis insights, check out our

Substitution Effect Insights and Alcohol vs. Cannabis content!


Last Updated: 3/12/2020