Cannabis and Alcohol: An Industry Comparison
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Cannabis and Alcohol: An Industry Comparison

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Every Cannabis Product In One Graphic Part 1 of 5
Cannabis and alcohol a side by side comparison Part 2 of 5
The new cannabis consumer Part 3 of 5
Exploring the untapped potential of CBD 4 of 5
5 signs of maturity from the cannabis industry Part 5 of 5

The following content is sponsored by Tenacious Labs.

Cannabis and Alcohol: An Industry Comparison

As cannabis continues to build legalization momentum in the U.S., it also finds itself entering a new chapter, and one that steps away from its prohibition past.

The industry is now on a path similar to that of the alcohol industry during the 20th century. So what can we learn by comparing the two industries?

This infographic from Tenacious Labs looks at similarities and differences between alcohol and cannabis in relation to market maturity, legality, and cultural acceptance. It’s the second in a series that explores the future of the cannabis industry. Let’s dive in.

Sizing up the Market

We are entering what looks like the beginning of the end for cannabis prohibition in the U.S. which dates all the way back to 1937.

During this time, cannabis has faced extreme hurdles that have hampered its ability to flourish. But despite this bumpy past, the future of cannabis looks bright. In 2020, combined legal and illicit cannabis sales in the U.S. grew to be worth a combined $85 billion.

While this only represents 33% of total U.S. alcohol sales, consumption habits are changing quickly. For instance, the share of college students who drink daily fell from 6.5% in 1980 to 2.2% in 2017, and Americans overall are drinking far less these days compared to the 1980s.

On the other hand, cannabis holds a larger and growing influence amongst Americans old and young. In fact, the number of Americans who say they consume cannabis doubled from 28 million in 2009 to 48 million just a decade later.

YearNumber of Americans Who Have Used Cannabis In the Past Year
201948.2 Million
201843.4 Million
201740.9 Million
201637.5 Million
201536.0 Million
201435.1 Million
201332.9 Million
201231.5 Million
201129.7 Million
201029.3 Million
200928.6 Million

And since younger people nowadays are opting for cannabis over alcohol, the growth in their purchasing power in the years to come will likely have substantial influence on the alcohol and cannabis markets of tomorrow.

Legal Comparisons

Cannabis’ prohibition period length stands at over 6x the prohibition period compared to alcohol. Not to mention, there are still some 30 states that have yet to legalize recreational cannabis, also known as adult use.

StateState Level Legal Status Of Cannabis
AlabamaLegal for medical use
AlaskaLegal
ArizonaLegal
ArkansasLegal for medical use
CaliforniaLegal
ColoradoLegal
ConnecticutLegal
DelawareLegal for medical use
FloridaLegal for medical use
GeorgiaLegal for medical use
HawaiiLegal for medical use
IdahoIllegal
IllinoisLegal
IndianaLegal for medical use
IowaLegal for medical use
KansasIllegal
KentuckyIllegal
LouisianaLegal for medical use
MaineLegal
MarylandLegal for medical use
MassachusettsLegal
MichiganLegal
MinnesotaLegal for medical use
MississippiLegal for medical use
MissouriLegal for medical use
MontanaLegal
NebraskaIllegal, decriminalized
NevadaLegal
New HampshireLegal for medical use
New JerseyLegal
New MexicoLegal
New YorkLegal
North CarolinaLegal for medical use
North DakotaLegal for medical use
OhioLegal for medical use
OklahomaLegal for medical use
OregonLegal
PennsylvaniaLegal for medical use
Rhode IslandLegal for medical use
South CarolinaLegal for medical use
South DakotaLegal for medical use
TennesseeLegal for medical use (Limited)
TexasLegal for medical use (Limited)
UtahLegal for medical use
VermontLegal
VirginiaLegal
WashingtonLegal
Washington, DCLegal
West VirginiaLegal for medical use
WisconsinIllegal
WyomingIllegal

Despite this, the progress recently has been significant. While 70% of Americans opposed cannabis use in the 1970s, the same amount of the population now supports legalization today.

Health Factors

Global views on cannabis and alcohol are changing, and in very different ways. Nowadays, alcohol is seen as more dangerous than what was initially perceived in the past, while cannabis is shattering old stigmas as 74% of Americans believe cannabis to be safer than alcohol.

According to Our World in Data, alcohol use is responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide, while no such statistic exists for cannabis.

Risk FactorNumber of Deaths Worldwide (M)
High blood pressure10.4 Million
Smoking7.1 Million
High blood sugar6.5 Million
Air pollution (outdoor & indoor)4.9 Million
Obesity4.7 Million
Diet high in sodium3.2 Million
Diet low in whole grains3.0 Million
Alcohol use2.8 Million
Diet low in fruits2.4 Million
Diet low in nuts and seeds2.0 Million

It is perhaps unsurprising given the case against alcohol use that 57% of Americans would choose cannabis over alcohol if only one could be legal.

What Cannabis Can Learn From Alcohol

Alcohol has become a near quarter-trillion-dollar revenue generating industry in part because of its functioning regulations. The standardization of alcoholic drinks is fairly widespread, and as a result people can safely and conveniently convert units of alcohol from a pint of beer to a glass of wine in order to drink responsibly.

Similarly, an effective regulatory framework from the National Cannabis Industry Association also has the potential to propel the cannabis industry to new heights by categorizing cannabis products into four policy lanes:

  • Lane 1: Products approved as pharmaceutical drugs belong to Lane 1 and go through the rigorous drug approval process by the FDA.
  • Lane 2: These are cannabis products that are inhalable, edible, or topically applied, and are not approved as pharmaceutical drugs by the FDA. In addition, products in Lane 2 have greater than 0.3% THC, measured by dry weight.
  • Lane 3: Ingested and inhaled products with less than 0.3% THC make it onto Lane 3. These are cannabis products with little to no THC, and thus no psychoactive components in the plant.
  • Lane 4: Topically applied products like creams and balms, with less than 0.3% THC fall under the Lane 4 category.

It should be noted that regulatory frameworks for cannabis are still in their introductory stage, and amendments as well as changes in legislation are needed for further progress.

A New Chapter for Cannabis

It’s an exciting time to be a cannabis investor. The era of cannabis prohibition could be coming to a close. Even after lasting over 80 years, cannabis remains a robust and popular product within American culture.

And rather than competing head on with alcohol, it’s likely the two industries can co-exist. In fact, most industry insiders are betting on it. After all, alcohol companies have already made a flurry of corporate investments in the cannabis space worth billions of dollars.

If cannabis’s recent momentum and growth is any indication, it’s one that may hold plenty of upside.

In the next part of the Future of Cannabis Series, we will explore the The New Cannabis Consumer.

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The History of U.S. Energy Independence

This infographic traces the history of U.S. energy independence, showing the events that have shaped oil demand and imports over 150 years.

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history of U.S. energy independence

The History of U.S. Energy Independence

Energy independence has long been a part of America’s political history and foreign policy, especially since the 1970s.

Despite long being a leader in energy production, the U.S. has often still relied on oil imports to meet its growing needs. This “energy dependence” left the country and American consumers vulnerable to supply disruptions and oil price shocks.

The above infographic from Surge Battery Metals traces the history of U.S. energy independence, highlighting key events that shaped the country’s import reliance for oil. This is part one of three infographics in the Energy Independence Series.

How the U.S. Became Energy Dependent

Oil was first commercially drilled in the U.S. in 1859, when Colonel Edwin Drake developed an oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Twenty years later in 1880, the U.S. was responsible for 85% of global crude oil production and refining. But over the next century, the country became increasingly dependent on oil imports.

Here are some key events that affected America’s oil dependence and foreign policy during that time according to the Council on Foreign Relations:

  • 1908: Henry Ford invented the Model T, the world’s first mass-produced and affordable car.
  • 1914-1918: The U.S. began importing small quantities of oil from Mexico to meet the demands of World War I and domestic consumption.
  • 1942: In efforts to save gas and fuel for World War II, the Office of Defense Transportation implemented a national plan limiting driving speeds to 35 miles per hour.
  • 1943: President Roosevelt provided financial support to Saudi Arabia and declared Saudi oil critical to U.S. security.
  • 1950: With 40 million cars on the road, the U.S. became a net importer of oil bringing in around 500,000 barrels per day.
  • 1970: Twentieth century U.S. oil production peaked and President Nixon eased oil import quotas, allowing an additional 100,000 barrels per day in imports.

The U.S. economy’s increasing reliance on oil imports made it vulnerable to supply disruptions. For example, in 1973, in response to the U.S.’ support for Israel, Arab members of the OPEC imposed an embargo on oil exports to Western nations, creating the first “oil shock”. Oil prices nearly quadrupled, and American consumers felt the shock through long lineups at gas stations along with high inflation. Combined with rising unemployment rates and flattening wages, the increase in prices led to a period of stagflation.

Despite the energy crisis, U.S. oil production fell for decades, while the country met its increasing energy needs with oil from abroad.

The Rise and Fall of U.S. Oil Imports

Here’s how U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products has evolved since 1950 in comparison with consumption and production. All figures are in millions of barrels per day (bpd).

YearConsumption (bpd)Production (bpd)Net imports (bpd)
19506.5M5.9M0.5M
19609.8M8.1M1.6M
197014.7M11.7M3.2M
198017.1M10.8M6.4M
199017.0M9.6M7.2M
200019.7M8.7M10.4M
201019.2M9.5M9.4M
202119.8M18.7M-0.2M

Net oil imports quadrupled between 1960 and 1980, marking the two biggest decadal jumps. Given that production was falling while consumption was booming, it’s clear why the U.S. needed to rely on imports.

Imports peaked in 2005, with net imports accounting for a record 60% of domestic consumption. Both imports and consumption fell in the years that followed. In 2009, for the first time since 1970, U.S. oil production increased thanks to the shale boom. It ascended until 2019 to make the U.S. the world’s largest oil producer.

As of 2021, the U.S. was a net exporter of refined petroleum products and hydrocarbon liquids but remained a net importer of crude oil.

The New Era of Energy

Oil and fossil fuels have long played a central role in the global energy mix. The U.S.’ reliance on other countries for oil made it energy-dependent, exposing American gas consumers to geopolitical shocks and volatile oil prices.

Today, the global energy shift away from fossil fuels towards cleaner sources of generation offers a new opportunity to use lessons from the past. By securing the raw materials needed to enable the energy transition, the U.S. can build a clean energy future independent of foreign sources.

In the next part of the Energy Independence Series sponsored by Surge Battery Metals, we will explore the New Era of Energy and the role of electric vehicles and renewables in the ongoing energy transition.

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Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

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Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

Per Capita Rankings

The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
TransAlta25.816.3
Vistra22.497.0
OGE Energy21.518.2
AES Corporation19.849.9
Southern Company18.077.8
Evergy14.623.6
Alliant Energy14.414.1
DTE Energy14.229.0
Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
Entergy13.840.5
WEC Energy13.522.2
Ameren12.831.6
Duke Energy12.096.6
Xcel Energy11.943.3
Dominion Energy11.037.8
Emera11.016.6
PNM Resources10.55.6
PPL Corporation10.428.7
American Electric Power9.250.9
Consumers Energy8.716.1
NRG Energy8.229.8
Florida Power and Light8.041.0
Portland General Electric7.66.9
Fortis Inc.6.112.6
Avangrid5.111.6
PSEG3.99.0
Exelon3.834.0
Consolidated Edison1.66.3
Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
Next Era Energy Resources01.1

PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

TransAlta

TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

Vistra

Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
Gas63%52%
Coal29%15%
Nuclear6%9%
Renewables1%24%
Oil1%0%

Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

Exelon

Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

Consolidated Edison

Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

A Sustainable Tomorrow

Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who serve millions of Americans.

Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

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