As cannabis legalization sweeps across North America — with Canada now gone fully legal and 30 U.S. states having passed medical marijuana and/or adult use legislation — the face of the "cannabis consumer" isn't just one face at all. Anyone over the age of 18 in the case of medical marijuana policy, or over 19 or 21 with regard to adult use (depending on if you're Canadian or American) could qualify as a cannabis consumer. Gone are the days of singular stoner stereotypes.
Today's cannabis consumers include self-proclaimed stoners and non-stoners alike, everyone from weed nerds to weed moms, looking to replace an evening glass of wine with a joint or edible. In fact, though late teens are sanctioned to consume cannabis in Canada, the largest growing demographic of 420-friendly enthusiasts are older, more affluent consumers.
According to a study by Starbuds Canada, one of North America's fastest growing retailers, 44 percent of Canadians have expressed interest in cannabis, yet are still confused on the various provincial regulations. The study entitled "Canadians and Cannabis," debunks the antiquated myth that cannabis consumers are young dudes with no more than a high school education. Stoners can be anyone of any gender, age, educational pedigree, and income level. Cannabis may their passion, or simply another consumer wellness product.
"With cannabis going mainstream, the ’stoner’ stereotype is dying. Cannabis isn’t just for intoxication, people are using it to relax unwind, like they would a glass of wine at the end of the day,” says Dave Martyn, president of Starbuds Canada. “The average cannabis consumer is more likely to resemble your neighbor than any portrayal in pop culture.”
The study found that 27 percent of Canadians, or about 10 million people, currently consume cannabis. Prior to legalization, another 17 percent or six million people said they would consider using it. And though most people 65 and older don't currently use cannabis, many of them fell into the demographic of respondents who said they'd be interested to try it. The majority of Canada's cannabis-curious have higher education degrees, including 43 percent university and 32 percent college, and another 33 percent of these respondents have children (that means the majority are at least millennials, and likely also older).
Meanwhile, nearly half of millennials say they use cannabis to reduce anxiety, while only 10 percent of care about using cannabis just to "get high." While flower is still the most popular form of cannabis for 56 percent of respondents, that means nearly half the market is veering toward other forms of consumption. (However, Canadians will need to wait till later in 2019 for edibles and oils to become legal on the market.)
Nonetheless, despite strong interest in cannabis across the nation, 48 percent of Canadians said they weren't confident with regard to understanding their own provinces' cannabis laws around adult (recreational) use. To offer a solution to this confusion, Starbuds broke down the laws province-by-province on its website. As the government works to disseminate information about federal and provincial cannabis policy, retailers like Starbuds may also need to take it upon themselves to educate both their staff and clientele and clarify the country's new cannabis program for all Canadian cannabis consumers.