The public image of cannabis has shifted a lot over the last year, and according to the marketing research organization PSB, part of the credit goes to data.
PSB’s Senior Vice President Scott Elder expanded on the results of the 2018 Cannabis Culture Poll, commissioned by Civilized earlier this year, during a talk at the World Cannabis Congress.
"When poll results get published, one of the things that happens is there's a bit of a bandwagon effect," he said after the talk, "when people say, 'Oh, everybody supports it, maybe I should rethink my opposition'."
And this appears to have some basis in fact. The number of both Americans and Canadians who support the recreational and medical use of cannabis has increased substantially between PSB’s first poll in 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, 79 per cent of Americans and 81 per cent of Canadians supported legalization in some form. That number stayed roughly the same for Canadians, but now, 84 per cent of Americans support some kind of legalization.
"Support is growing and it's growing fast," he said. "It's very interesting when you see how things change."
"You saw it with gay marriage over about a 15 year period. It was well underwater in terms of support and opposition, and really quickly grew. So once you get that kind of publicity around more and more people are supporting this, then more and more people start to support it. It’s a strange effect."
The average cannabis user isn’t who you think.
Elder also talked about some of the data they gained about the average cannabis user. Over half of American and Canadian cannabis consumers say that they are stressed, although he says that’s not unique to consumers.
"I don’t know if that’s different from the general population, it’s a pretty stressful time," he joked during the presentation.
And sure, a lot of these stressed-out smokers are using cannabis to cope with that stress, but they also found that a surprisingly large number of users also exercised to help cope with some of life’s hardships.
More men than women smoke, more liberal people than conservatives, more urban dwellers than homesteaders. Only slightly less than half are married, and they make a surprising amount of money.
In short, the average consumer isn’t what you’re thinking of, and this kind of data should be informing the kinds of products that companies are promoting.
"If you're any business, you tend to have a bit of tunnel vision," Elder said, "because you're in it all day long. We always think that everything that's being said is what everybody is hearing, so it's kind of a good reality check."