Opponents of legalization often warn that allowing recreational cannabis will lead to the rise of Big Marijuana: a massive corporate coalition that floods markets with mass produced cannabis that is both low-cost and low-quality. As Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet, founder of anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) pointed out in an op-ed for the Washington Post, governments need to institute a regulatory framework that deters the get-rich-quick interests of those driving Big Marijuana.
However, even if Walmart Weed were to flood the market, those companies would be hard pressed to find takers for their substandard cannabis. A Civilized cannabis culture poll conducted by PSB research shows that most American consumers are willing to pay more for higher quality cannabis.
Those who support legal cannabis, unlike the backers of Project SAM, including cannabis consumers and non-consumers alike, nonetheless feel the industry could still use more regulation and oversight — which could help promote better quality adult use and medical products on the market. Half of non-consumers and more than two-thirds of consumers said they would view the cannabis industry more favorably if it partnered with organizations to develop medical standards and regulations, or if the industry developed public education campaigns or had more funding for research on cannabis' effects from medical and adult use.
But first and foremost, Americans want to buy cannabis that’s actually legal. While 46 percent of consumers buy cannabis under the table from their friends or family, just 30 percent buy from local dispensaries. However, 84 percent of those buying off the black market say they would be willing to buy from a cannabis dispensary. Another 38 percent of non-consumers said they would spend money with a cannabis-related business if it were legal where they lived.
Among those who consume cannabis, about 10 percent of consumers buy one gram or less a month, while a third buy at least a quarter ounce monthly. Meanwhile, 35 percent of consumers say they spend at least $100 a month on cannabis and/or related products. So consumers are already making cannabis a big part of their budget. Now they want to make sure they’re getting the very best quality for their dollar.