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Could California Beer Sales Slide With Legalized Marijuana?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It's been one month since Californians legalized recreational marijuana. A new report from Cowen and Company says beer volume sales are declining in states that have already legalized marijuana. What does that mean for breweries California when people who drink alcohol now have the option to use marijuana?

"Now that it's legal, I feel like kids will be more willing to try it," said 24-year-old Ritsa Gountumas.

"There's probably a lot of closet smokers that are probably gonna be coming out," said 24-year-old Cody Calhoun.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol use has dropped over the last three years in young adults between 18 and 25. At the same time, marijuana use has steadily been going up.

"It's a trend that we're going to have to deal with," said JE Paino, manager of the Sacramento-based brewery Ruhstaller.

He told CBS13 that the shift towards marijuana in young adults causes him concern.

"That will definitely have an effect on us, but not tomorrow," he said.

For small breweries like Ruhstaller, the average customer is over 30. So if the 18-25 year olds trade beer for marijuana now, his business may not notice until the next decade. But while recreational marijuana use could become more mainstream in 2017, Paino plans to focus on his product instead of worrying about what he can't control.

"I can control, the quality of our beer, the quality of our staff, the quality of our environment," Paino said. "That I can control."

But given the choice, 24-year-old Cody Calhoun plans to stick with his old standard.

"Beer and whisky" he said.

Also in their report, Cowen and Company says that craft beer sales have remained the same in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado; which that gives Paino hope that Californians won't give up on their local craft beer so easily.

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