Survey Shows Cannabis Use on the Upswing


A new survey on cannabis consumption shows that use is increasing among American adults, with nearly one in five reporting using cannabis at least three times per week. The study also found that one in eight (12%) of cannabis users reported using cannabis daily or multiple times per day, with one-third of daily users saying that they began consuming at this increased rate within the past 12 months.

The online survey explored the cannabis consumption, attitudes, and purchase behaviors of nearly 2,800 adult Americans. The poll was completed earlier this month by global public opinion and data company YouGov in partnership with Chicago-based creative services agency Receptor Brands and marketing and branding company Sister Merci.

The survey found that 19% of adults said that they used cannabis at least three times per week, which the questionnaire’s designers classified as heavy based on comparable metrics for alcohol use. Among these heavy cannabis users, 43% were women, 55% were parents, and more than half (54%) were older than 35 years old. Of those who consume cannabis daily, 52% started doing so in the last 4 years and 33% within the last year.

Nearly half of heavy users said that they would not describe themselves as a stoner. These individuals believe cannabis provides a functional benefit more than a cultural connection. Additionally, even though they are heavy users, they do not consider people who use cannabis for relaxation, sleep, or medical purposes to be stoners.

“As we witness the normalization of cannabis consumption and with 420 right around the corner, we were interested in deconstructing the outdated “stoner” trope and understanding heavy users as well as how consumption habits change over time,” said Allison Disney, partner at Receptor Brands, in a statement about the research.

Disney added that among those who used marijuana at least three times per week, “60% of them don’t think of themselves as ‘stoners.’ These consumers indicate they’re using cannabis weekly or daily for its functional benefits, such as relaxation or sleep, and many of them—especially parents of young children—stepped up their consumption within the past year.”

Preferences of Cannabis Users Examined

The survey also examined the cannabis product preferences and purchase habits of American adults. The majority of heavy users (51%) said that they purchased their cannabis from a licensed dispensary, while more than a third (38%) reported getting their cannabis from an illicit source such as unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services or underground dealers. A quarter (26%) procured their cannabis from a friend or family member’s home grow.

More than half (53%) of heavy users said that they preferred cannabis flower, while 39% said they were partial to consuming cannabis edibles. Only 14% said that cannabis beverages or drink enhancers were their favorite consumption method. More than a fourth (28%) of heavy users said they often or usually mixed more than one cannabis product, such as smoking a joint and eating an edible.

More than a third (34%) of heavy users are indifferent about whether cannabis products are made by a local brand or a company that does business across the country. A preference for local brands was most popular in the West, where more than half (53%) said that it “makes a difference if cannabis products are made by a local brand” or national operator. About a fifth of heavy users in the Northeast (21%) and Midwest (20%) said they preferred local brands, while only 15% of respondents in the South said the same.

“While many in our industry are focused on attracting new consumers to cannabis, we still have much to learn about the profiles, preferences, and spending habits of heavy users,” said Disney. “We hope to use these new insights at Receptor Brands to build the foundation for products and campaigns for a broader range of patients and customers as daily consumption becomes increasingly commonplace.”

The online survey was conducted between March 31 and April 4. The total sample size was 2,788, including 528 who used cannabis at least three times per week and were classified as heavy users. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults age 18 and up.


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