Dry January promised to boost weed sales – but did it?

dry january weed sales

Americans now believe cannabis is safer than alcohol, according to recent polls. This fact is further expressed in the continued popularity of Dry January, the choice to abstain from alcohol in the first month of the year. As more people than ever promised to commit to alcohol sobriety for 31 days, infused beverage brands hoped to take a piece of the pie.

RELATED: We added weed to the viral Sleepy Girl Mocktail, here’s what happened

dry january weed sales

Alcohol retail during Dry January

Lots of people stopped shopping for booze in the first month of 2024, riding the high of New Year’s Resolutions and Dry January commitments. CStore Decisions reported alcohol sales dropped in January 2024 compared to December 2023 and the previous January. Beer sales fell 18 percent last month, but non-alcoholic beer sales rose 23 percent, signaling a thirst for alternatives.

This was possible despite only 50 percent of retailers carrying alcohol-free brews. According to the report, each store carries one unique non-alcoholic option like Three Spirit Libations, kava drinks, and even hemp beverages.

When it comes to Dry January, the rules are made by the participant–some abstain from anything mind-altering, while others continue smoking weed. Research showed that 90 percent of Gen Z Dry January participants would continue consuming cannabis. However, with the new adult generation drinking less on the whole, this may not translate into higher weed sales.

RELATED: 6 bartender bibles for cannabis drink and mocktail enthusiasts

Dry January weed sales data

Data from Hoodie Analytics shows that sales softened from December to January this year. Despite light post-holiday spending habits, flower, vapes, and edibles maintained popularity in January.

Hoodie Vice President of Customer Success Stephanie Spriet broke it down for GreenState, sharing that though the payoff wasn’t exponential this year, weed could become a Dry January staple as the market matures.

“In several states, especially in the Midwest and on the East Coast, January cannabis sales were up versus January last year – while that growth has been largely supported by growing licenses and expanded adult use availability, the potential of Dry January remains,” Spriet explained.

State-by-state nuances largely dictated early 2024 growth, signaling that market volatility trumps trends at this stage in cannabis. The ongoing Connecticut product shortage inflated retail prices, impacting retail shops. CT Insider reports that overall sales and total items sold fell in January.

New Mexico also saw about a $4M drop in total cannabis sales, adult-use and medical, from December to January. Michigan saw almost $80M less in sales into the new year, with more active licenses and a lower cost per pound than in December. Less sales could be market-specific or reflect another new year trend: “No Spend January.” Either way, sales didn’t show these states claiming dollars that would have gone to alcohol.

On the flip side, Maryland is riding high halfway through the first year of cannabis legalization, seeing record numbers month over month with no sign of stopping. CEO Lauren Carpenter of California cannabis retailer Embarc, a dispensary with 12 Golden State locations, shared that the store has also continued to see month-over-month growth.

Dry January potential not yet realized

The popularity of Dry January is rising as quickly as the stigmas against cannabis consumption are breaking down. Meanwhile, habits of a newly-21 generation have already shifted the market, commandeering shelf space for alcohol-free alternatives. Even beverage retail giant Total Wine carries over 20 cannabis drinks available at select stores.

These concepts –Dry January, cannabis normalization, Gen Z opting for weed over booze– could eventually converge in the new year, but not quite yet. Cannabis marketers and beverage entrepreneurs may not have seen a notable uptick in drinks and alcohol alternatives this year. However, they may once the market stabilizes. Brands and retailers that persistently pair thoughtful marketing with in-touch cannabis education could eventually capitalize on Dry January and similar trends, just not this year.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.