With legal cannabis spreading to more and more states every year, we are nearing the milestone of 50% of adults in the US with access to legal cannabis! As legal access has spread, attitudes towards cannabis across the country have warmed, and more and more Americans are choosing to consume cannabis. In BDSA’s newest wave of Cannabis Consumer Insights data, states home to adult-use cannabis markets passed another milestone, with more than 50% of adults 21+ surveyed in these states claiming to have consumed cannabis in the past six months. This expansion of the consumer landscape is huge news, but far from the only notable nugget of data gold that can be pulled from our new, granular Cannabis Consumer Insights survey. When we look deeper into the data, we see a cannabis consumer base that is knowledgeable, open to trying new product formats, and willing to experiment with incorporating cannabis consumption into more occasions throughout their lives.
Both adult-use and medical markets have seen consumer participation continue to skyrocket
In just a few short years, attitudes towards cannabis across the country have shifted rapidly, with the share of those who have “bought in” to cannabis consumption skyrocketing while fewer and fewer report not being open to consuming cannabis. In Spring 2022, BDSA Cannabis Consumer Insights data show that 51% of Americans aged 21+ in adult-use states claim to have consumed cannabis in the past six months, up 15% from Spring 2020. At the same time, the share who claim to be rejecters (non-consumers who are not open to consuming in the future) fell from 31% in Spring 2020 to just 23% in Spring 2022.
Overall consumer participation is lower in medical markets, but BDSA data suggest that consumer participation is growing at a similar rate. Between Spring 2020 and Spring 2022, the share of adults who report past six-month consumption ballooned from just 26% to 41%. Over that same period, the share of rejecters fell from 34% to 28%.
With mature markets seemingly nearing saturation, new and emerging markets are seeing the fastest consumer participation growth
While cannabis consumption has grown when looking at an aggregate of all markets, the most mature cannabis markets saw comparatively slower growth over the past two years. Colorado saw its consumer participation amongst adults 21+ jump from 41% in Spring 2020 to 51% in Spring 2022, but the markets saw only 1% growth in consumer share between Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. The California market, which saw its participation amongst adults 21+ grow from 33% in Spring 2020 to 47% in Spring 2022 only saw 2% growth in consumer share between Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.
This slowing of consumer growth in California and Colorado suggest that the most established markets are nearing saturation of consumer participation, which stands in sharp contrast to the rapid growth happening in new and emerging markets. One market that deserves recognition is the massive Florida market, which saw its consumer participation amongst adults 21+ jump from 24% in Spring 2020 to 49% in Spring 2022!
Not only are there more cannabis consumers than ever, but consumer knowledge and confidence are also growing
As the consumer base is expanding across legal markets, consumers themselves are becoming more sophisticated. In Spring 2022, ~35% of consumers in adult-use markets claimed that they view themselves as “cannabis connoisseurs”, up from ~25% in Spring 2019. While some consumers still hold on to misconceptions about cannabis, consumers as a whole are very knowledgeable, with BDSA Cannabis Consumer Insights data showing that 82% of consumers in Spring 2022 know about the difference between CBD and THC.
Those who consume are consuming more often, and more consumers are pairing cannabis with alcohol and a variety of activities
Some primary consumption occasions for alcohol and cannabis are very different, with alcohol being the substance of choice for high-energy activities and parties, while cannabis is king when it’s time to chill out or get creative. That said, there are several consumption occasions, such as hanging out, or relaxing at the end of the day, that present opportunities for both alcohol and cannabis consumption. The share of consumers who report pairing cannabis with different types of alcohol has risen significantly. The share of consumers in adult-use markets who report pairing cannabis with spirits or liquor rose from 12% in Spring 2018 to 22% in Spring 2022, while the share who report cannabis with cocktails doubled to total 20% in Spring 2022.
BDSA Cannabis Consumer Insights data show that more consumers are pairing cannabis with their activities not typically associated with cannabis. The share of consumers in adult-use markets claiming that they pair cannabis with fine dining rose from 14% in Spring 2020 to 25% in Spring 2022, while the share of those who report using cannabis while exercising rose from 18% in Spring 2020 to 26% in Spring 2022.
While these increases may not seem shocking to savvy industry insiders, they demonstrate that the use occasions for cannabis are incredibly varied. They also show opportunity for brands that can produce product with form factors and targeted formulations that speak to these varied need states and use occasions.