New Study Reveals Demographics, Attitudes, and Habits of CA Cannabis Consumers

The survey uncovered details about those in California who consume, accept, and reject marijuana, and the demographics of those who are consumers.

A new survey conducted by Colorado market intelligence and consumer research firm BDS Analytics provides new information on the shift in attitudes around cannabis and their relationship to legalization.

In an effort to investigate the social impact of legalized recreational marijuana, BDS Analytics first surveyed 1,001 California adults, aged 21 years and older in the first quarter of 2017. Following the launch of California’s legal recreational market January 1, the firm then surveyed another group of 1,008 adults in quarter one of 2018.

During both sets of surveys, participants were questioned about their behaviors toward cannabis, including their views regarding cannabis laws.

The study revealed three distinct groups:

  1. Consumers (average age of 39 years): Those who have used marijuana or products containing cannabinoids in the past six months.
  2. Acceptors (average age of 49 years): Those who have not consumed cannabis products in the past six months, but are open to doing so in the future.
  3. Rejecters (average age of 56 years): Those who have not used any cannabis in the last six months and are not likely to ever consider consumption.

Acceptors and rejecters, according to the report, elect to not use cannabis because they don’t like how it makes them feel. Over a third of those who aren’t using marijuana said they would be more open to it to experience the natural health benefits if there were no psychoactive effects. While rejecters said they’re not likely to try marijuana themselves in the future, nearly 50 percent said they would want a loved one to have access if it were for pain management.

The report also revealed a significant increase in cannabis consumption among California adults over the past year. Twenty-nine percent of adults in California are now consumers, up from 23 percent the year before. The number of acceptors dropped from 38 percent to 33 percent over the year’s time, another indication that more adults are using cannabis now rather than only being open to it. An increase in consumers could also be related to more dispensaries being located in suburbs and small towns, rather than limited to cities to as before, according to the report.

The initiation of legal marijuana sales in 2018 also appeared to have an impact on tolerance and acceptance of cannabis, as the number of rejecters decreased from 40 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018.

“Things are changing so fast in respect to cannabis,” Linda Gilbert, managing director of consumer insights at BDS Analytics, told Forbes. “We are already seeing major shifts in such a short amount of time. Some of that has to do with changes in legalization, what’s happening in distribution and retail systems, and brands. But it’s clear that open conversation about cannabis is happening more now than ever before, and it’s affecting everything from attitudes to opinions to consumption.”

Closer Look at CA Cannabis Consumers

The BDS report also looked into the demographics of consumers in California, revealing that 68 percent are Caucasian while nearly 45 percent are Hispanic, a percentage four times higher than consumers of other ethnicities.

In the face of the “lazy” stereotype often associated with those who have cannabis, the survey found that 53 percent of consumers work full-time jobs with an average annual income of nearly $70,000. Only 44 percent of acceptors said they have full-time employment, and 33 percent of rejecters said they work full-time.

Additionally, the BDA Analytics study found that those who consume marijuana are generally more physically active than acceptors and rejecters. Of consumers, 43 percent participate in outdoor recreation once or more per week, 40 percent go to the gym a minimum of once a week, and 31 percent practice yoga or pilates at least once per week. Of acceptors and rejecters, in each week 35 percent and 25 percent, respectively, participate in outdoor recreation, 30 percent and 27 percent, respectively, go to the gym at least once, and 26 percent and 20 percent, respectively, attend a yoga or pilates class.

A concerning revelation disclosed by the survey is that consumers are now less likely to consider voting in every election important. Only 57 percent of consumers in 2018 said it’s important to vote, down from 71 percent in 2017. At 72 percent, rejecters expressed the strongest interest in social activism, slightly higher than the 67 percent of acceptors.

The report also shows that of consumers, 32 percent are married and 58 percent have children, suggesting the stigma around having cannabis in the home, at least in California, is deteriorating. Marriage rates were higher in acceptors and rejecters, at 44 percent.

More on California and Marijuana

You can learn more about the recreational and medical marijuana laws in California and in other U.S. states by visiting our education page. Through our news feed, you can keep up with the latest studies and legislative developments.