For so long, the same tired narrative surrounded cannabis culture. Lazy stoners, unmotivated and antisocial, lounging in basements and park benches smoking the devil’s weed. Folks with no cares or responsibilities, who make few positive contributions to society, perpetually engulfed in a smoky haze.
We know these characterizations are outdated, stereotypical, and simply wrong. Millions of consumers across the country defy these labels, the regulated industry demonstrates a commitment to compliance and self-regulation, and it seems that the perception of cannabis and cannabis users is changing. Still, a stigma persists, and the continued federal illegality of cannabis means that many consumers aren’t willing to identify themselves because of the risk such a declaration presents
Abundant anecdotal evidence exists to dispute the prevalent misconceptions about cannabis consumers. We can point to countless examples of successful stoners, motivated marijuana mavens, and conscientious cannabis connoisseurs from all demographics. These accounts are important to tell and to disseminate widely, because they give others permission and space to to share their own stories about the benefits of cannabis in their lives
Cannabis consumers among the most successful adults
But these days, people want metrics. We seek numbers – hard data – to validate our hypotheses and steer our decisions around everything from purchasing to policy. That’s why a recent consumer study by BDS Analytics, a firm that studies market trends and provides business intelligence, is particularly noteworthy
In this first-of-its-kind report, BDS determines that cannabis consumers are generally healthy, happy, and “among the most well-adjusted and successful of American adults,” according to their press release. They analyzed data regarding cannabis consumption and other lifestyle choices, gathered from a wide spectrum of California and Colorado residents, and came to conclusions that might surprise prohibitionists. The study looked at cannabis consumers, Acceptors (those who do not consume but would consider it), and Rejectors (those who do not consume and would not consider it) and found some significant differences among the three groups.
Wealthier, more satisfied, and more likely to have children
Among Californians, for example, consumers are wealthier than both Acceptors and Rejectors, with an average household income nearly $20,000 higher than their counterparts’ earnings. Meanwhile, in Colorado, the full-time employment rate for consumers is ten percent higher than that for Acceptors and Rejectors.
When asked if they are more satisfied with life than they were a year ago, five out of ten consumers responded yes. Compared to Acceptors and Rejectors, four out of ten of whom replied affirmatively, it seems that cannabis consumer are actually happier.
Perhaps most interesting are the statistics related to cannabis consumption and parenting. Consumers in California are more likely to have children than not, and they’re more likely to have children than both Acceptors and Rejectors. Additionally, 37 percent of California consumers have kids under age ten, outnumbering Acceptors, at 23 percent, and Rejectors, at just 11 percent. Of course, it’s no surprise to us to learn that most cannabis consumers are parents!
The new narrative
Cannabis consumers also report being more social, more creative, more active, more compassionate, and more highly educated than those in the Acceptor and Rejector categories. This combined data suggests that cannabis consumers are both more content and more successful than their Acceptor and Rejector counterparts. “In fact,” Linda Gilbert, head of consumer research at BDS Analytics maintains via press release, “positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socializing, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California.” While this assertion may challenge conventional wisdom, it sounds familiar to those of us who have been paying attention.
There’s a new narrative developing around cannabis and those who consume it: one that moves away from the shame and stigma and that more accurately reflects the diversity and breadth of this community. We’ve long suspected this was the case, and now the numbers back it up.
The consumer research division at BDS plans to continue this study and expand their work to Oregon and Washington. The Splimm Team will keep you posted on their latest developments.