The New Face of Cannabis “Not Your Average Stoner”
We all have it. You know. That image. No matter where it came from – the movies: Reefer Madness, Dazed and Confused, Pineapple Express; the shows: That 70’s Show, Cheech and Chong. Maybe it is even from your own personal experience. The list goes on and on, but from somewhere, you have it. Stoners. They are lazy. They are stupid. They are always hungry. They laugh at everything, even when it is not funny. You have no idea what they are laughing at. Insert whatever stereotype you wish, but you can’t deny it, you have it, or at least, you had it.
The truth is, the conventional pothead you have in your mind no longer travels around in a hotboxed car, or a cloud of pot smoke, like the dust cloud surrounding Pig Pen on Peanuts. In a study (“the study”) conducted by the Cannabis Consumers Coalition (“The Coalition”) from January 8, 2017 through February 22, 2017, The Coalition studied the ever-evolving demographics of the cannabis-using community. The study pulled from a consumer base from primarily legal states. (Currently, 28 states and Washington, DC permit either medical cannabis, or both medical and recreational cannabis.)
The report produced by The Coalition merged two studies. One study obtained demographic data and cannabis consumption habits. The other study focused primarily on edibles. (If you suddenly want a brownie, it’s ok.) The data uncovered in the study showed that the average cannabis user was a professional adult, with a combined household income which well exceeded the poverty line. The data also showed that most cannabis users have been using for a long period of time, daily, and their cannabis usage costs them over $100 a month. Additionally, the data showed that cannabis users are regular edible consumers. The majority claimed that they consumed edibles more than once per month.
The age demographic revealed by the study is not shocking. The Coalition found that of those who participated in the study, the majority fell in the 21-35 year-old age bracket at 40.70 percent. The next largest demographic was the 36-45 year-old age group, at 25.75 percent. And almost one-third of the study participants were over the age of 46, totaling 32.52 percent –- only 8.18 percent less than the 21-35 year-old group.
Is Age Just a Number?
Are baby boomers going up in smoke? Those born between 1946 and 1964 will reach, or will have already reached, retirement age by the year 2030; they will be 65 or older. As of the study conducted in early 2017, this age demographic was about one-third of the cannabis-using population. Baby boomers are the fastest growing cannabis consumers. A study conducted by NYU showed a 71 percent increase in usage by those over the age of 50 between 2006 – 2013. This demographic is clearly striving to find remedies for their age-induced aches, pains and illnesses.
Although the sample size was limited, the data produced supports the theory of this piece: the face of cannabis is changing. Over a quarter of the group fell in the range of 36-45 year-olds, also supporting the finding that daily cannabis use is found among working professionals with disposable income. A far cry from the unmotivated, glassy-eyed kid next-door.
Women and Weed
Women are all over the cannabis industry. Women comprise 36 percent of executive positions within the new cannabis industry. Of the study respondents, 41.65 percent of marijuana users were male, and 58.35 percent were female. The female impact in the cannabis industry is undeniable. The market is evolving to promote the femininity of cannabis, and its user.
In June 2017, a ladies’ tea party was hosted in Mill Valley. There were summer dresses, high heels, fancy hats, and beautiful tea cups. Not an unfamiliar scene; however, this was not your Mama’s tea party. Or was it? The tea consumed at this high tea party, provided by a company called Kikoko Cannabis Tea, touts its variety of teas. Pick your “poison.” These teas can be used to jump start your sex life, quell your insomnia, boost your mood, and aid in pain relief. Other than at Bay Area invitation-only parties, the Kikoko teas can be bought at some local dispensaries and are sold online, but only in California. (A can of 10 tea sachets costs $40 to $56.) How does that compare to a good bottle of wine or vodka? Will cannabis-infused beverages give new meaning to the ever-popular “Happy Hour”?
Systematic Traded for a Healthy Alternative
“The evolution of medicinal cannabis is changing with the acceptance of cannabis,” says Christine Lusty of Valley Apothecary – Livermore. “There is a change in receptiveness [to medicinal cannabis] in the medical community, especially with critical patients.” Ms. Lusty, and her business partner, Dr. Nader Amer (a physical therapist and partner in a respected Tri-Valley home health care business), created Valley Apothecary to service the medicinal cannabis patients of the Tri-Valley. Ms. Lusty states that due to trusted medical professionals’ growing support for medicinal cannabis, patients who would have otherwise been strongly averse to cannabis use, have now tried it, and even embraced it, as an alternative to their traditional medicinal regimen. Lusty observes,
“The older generation, who lived the ‘Just Say No’ era, are reaching the ages of 50-100 years old, where the worst diagnoses are prominent. They are now being forced to say, ‘I don’t give a damn about perception, I need relief.’”
Ms. Lusty also believes that there is a psychology to the acceptance of cannabis use. Once a medical term is used, and supported to describe cannabis, psychologically it is acceptable to use it, or at a minimum, support it. This is arguably evidenced by the growing number of states that have passed legislation permitting medicinal cannabis use.
The quickly rising opioid epidemic is also facilitating the acceptance of medicinal cannabis, according to Lusty.
As of March 2018, The National Institute on Drug Abuse had this to say about the opioid crisis in America :
“Every day, more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.”
“The public is desperate for an alternative which will provide relief and not kill,” Lusty said. “I like helping people know there is an option out there, taking the time to educate them. Education is the key to helping people change their views and accept it as an option which is healthy.”
The Changed Face of Cannabis
The face of cannabis you thought you knew is no longer. The movie Reefer Madness tried to instill fear and paranoia in the 1930s. Ronald Reagan upped the ante for marijuana crimes with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986. Nancy Reagan supported her husband’s plight, starting a movement of marches throughout the nation. This is within the history much of America remembers. And yet, as with everything, knowledge is power.
The stereotypical images of neighbor boy who always seems “out of it”, or the hippie with a joint hanging from her mouth, are images which no longer represent the current cannabis-using community. Now, look to your colleagues, the impeccably-dressed president of the PTA, the weekend soccer coach, your parents and grandparents, and you will see the new face of cannabis. The education and acceptance of cannabis use is empowering the nation, and as a result, the economy of cannabis is growing like a weed. (Pun intended.)
NOTICE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF FEDERAL LAWS: MARIJUANA/CANNABIS REMAINS A SCHEDULE ONE DRUG UNDER ALL FEDERAL LAW. THE CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE.
 Bolivar, M.A., Larisa (2017) Cannabis Consumers Coalition: 2017 Report on Cannabis Consumer Demographics and Consumption Habits
 Baby Boomers the fastest-growing marijuana users: Increasingly, your grandparents may be taking a 4:20 break. Consumer Affairs. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/baby-boomers-thefastest-growing-marijuana-users-120516.html