A new survey of cannabis consumers in the USA debunks some common stereotypes and highlights the diverse demographics of cannabis consumers. The report explores the demographics and motivations behind cannabis use and emphasizes the need for expanded access to a broader range of cannabis products. Despite growing legalization, limited access remains a challenge for many cannabis consumers.
Entrepreneurs entering the cannabis market who believe that typical cannabis consumers are young, long-haired stoners in Hawaiian shirts should reconsider their approach. The latest report from New Frontier Data effectively debunks the stoner stereotype and other misconceptions about cannabis consumers.
The report, “Cannabis Consumers in America: 2023, Part I,” by New Frontier Data, is based on a survey conducted among 5,345 adult Americans (of which 4,358 are cannabis users) in February. The findings indicate that statistically, 42 percent of adult US residents have used THC products and agree that they will likely use them again.
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Face To Face With the New Reality: Cannabis Consumers in 2023
As the cannabis survey shows, 39 percent of adult Americans admitted to consuming cannabis in 2022, and an even larger percentage, 42 percent, acknowledged using cannabis in 2023.
The report yielded significant findings regarding cannabis consumers and their motivations:
- More cannabis consumers (58 percent) identified themselves as recreational users, as opposed to medical users (42 percent), but the majority – 53 percent – described using cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes.
- An astonishing 83 percent of cannabis consumers stated that the motivation for using cannabis was the need for “relaxation.” This translated into 61 percent seeking better sleep quality, 64 percent for relaxation, 59 percent for stress relief, 62 percent for anxiety reduction, and 48 percent for pain management.
- Only 10 percent of respondents were aged 18 to 24. The largest group, 24 percent, fell within the 25 to 34 age range. Nearly equally sized, 23 percent were aged 35 to 44. Approximately 18 percent of cannabis consumers were between 45 and 54 years old, 15 percent were between 55 and 64, and 10 percent were 65 or older.
Diversity of Cannabis Consumers: A Closer Look at Demographics
- Women accounted for 46 percent of cannabis consumers. Among these users, 63 percent were White, 14 percent were Hispanic/Latino, and 14 percent were Black.
- Politically, 15 percent of surveyed cannabis consumers identified as strongly liberal/left-leaning; 21 percent as moderately liberal/left-leaning; 28 percent as independent; 19 percent as moderately conservative/right-leaning; 10 percent as strongly conservative/right-leaning; and 7 percent as apolitical.
Medical Motivation: Why Doctors Recommend Cannabis
The survey revealed that doctors recommend the use of medical cannabis for various reasons. In order of popularity, those motivations were:
- Chronic pain (46%)
- Migraines (21%)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (17%)
- Degenerative joint disease (10%)
- Rheumatoid arthritis (9%)
- Neuropathy (9%)
Where and How Often Cannabis Consumers Use Cannabis
The frequency of usage among respondents was another reflection of growth. Thirty-one percent of cannabis consumers reported using cannabis multiple times a day, 12 percent once a day, 21 percent multiple times a week, 5 percent once a week, and 11 percent multiple times a month.
Of the 70 percent of current cannabis consumers claiming that their use of cannabis helps them achieve a “specific goal,” that goal increasingly involves relief from various physical ailments and conditions. Fifty-one percent of self-identified medical cannabis consumers in the survey said they had replaced some of their prescription medications with medical cannabis.
Here, CBD (as opposed to THC-rich hemp) often plays a role in pain relief. Fifty-four percent of cannabis consumers said they had tried CBD; even non-consumers of THC-rich hemp (16 percent) had tried these products. The frequency of CBD usage was significant: daily, 17 percent; once to several times a week, 19 percent; once to several times a month, 20 percent; once to several times a year, 26 percent; and once or twice at all, 18 percent for CBD oils. Edibles and skincare products were the most popular.
Obstacles and Challenges: Access to Cannabis in the USA
The report found that, despite the expanding legalization, many cannabis consumers still face limited access to cannabis. Seventy-four percent of American cannabis consumers reside in states with legal access for adult or medical use, as noted by New Frontier Data, but local restrictions and geographical dispersion of dispensaries can pose barriers for cannabis consumers.
“As a result, regulators should work towards ensuring a broader range of cannabis products are available to cannabis consumers,” concludes the report. So far, operators have focused on flower and edible products. Accordingly, it is time for them to expand their product offerings to reach an even larger and new group of cannabis consumers, suggests the report.
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