420 for Everyone
It’s estimated that 52 million people will consume cannabis at least once in 2022. Statistically, these folks are all around you – the young woman in the coffee shop, the middle-aged man in line at the post office, the grandmother checking out at the grocery store. They may not wear pot leaf t-shirts, but they turn to cannabis to ease their pain, relieve anxiety, or simply to relax at the end of a long day.
Our cannabis community is composed of individuals from all walks of life, and at Ethos Cannabis, we celebrate them and uplift their journeys on 4/20 and every day of the year.
Cannabis normalization is here – and it’s growing
Statistically, nearly 1 in 5 people you run into has consumed cannabis within the past year, according to New Frontier Data. And while 18% of American adults say they have consumed cannabis in the past year, 12% enjoy cannabis at least monthly. Among those consumers, nearly a quarter of them consume multiple times a day. These rates are the highest reported in history and are expected to grow another 4% by 2023. It’s clear: Cannabis is well on its way to entering the mainstream – if it hasn’t done so already.
What contributes to the normalization of cannabis?
The rollback of Prohibition-era policies – changing the label from “illegal” to “legal” – is certainly the catalyst for normalization, but many more factors contribute to the increased comfort and openness Americans feel regarding cannabis.
Cannabis is no longer in the shadows. And while that doesn’t mean that every consumer is live streaming their sessions for the world to see, public conversations around cannabis make many feel more comfortable with their own relationship to the plant. In an environment where more than 89 million U.S. adults have access to medical or adult-use cannabis, those conversations open the door and help them see that other cannabis consumers look just like them.
As cannabis consumption grows in the United States, according to New Frontier Data, “usage becomes increasingly normalized and destigmatized.” Filola Beitler, Culture and Engagement Manager at Ethos, said it best: “Living in a more transparent world, where you can talk more openly about cannabis, only helps us and makes us realize who consumes cannabis has evolved.” Read more of Filola’s 420 story.
While the lack of federal legalization inhibits larger-scale funding for research, many studies have been performed demonstrating cannabis’s therapeutic and beneficial effects on various ailments. The promise cannabis holds – and the millions who have tried cannabis to alleviate painful symptoms and side effects – is a driving force behind normalization.
Nearly all Americans – 91%, according to Pew Research – approve of legal medical cannabis. That opens the door to exploration of cannabis and how it can be a part of the everyday consumer’s routine.
For many consumers, a significant part of their cannabis education is understanding how it affects them. Scott Tornell, shift supervisor at Ethos – Rockville, began his journey consuming high levels of THC regularly. Over time, Tornell realized he found relief from anxiety by consuming much lower amounts of cannabis less frequently, breaking from the commonly-held myth that more THC equates to a better experience.
“I learned that cannabis doesn’t need to be an ‘all the time’ thing and I can still benefit from it,” Tornell said. “It’s not necessary to take three or four dabs or eat 100 milligrams of edibles — I can just have 10 milligrams and see where that gets me.” Read more of Scott’s 420 story.
In the U.S., 38 states have legalized cannabis in some form. As a result, medicinal and recreational consumers have better access to cannabis products than they have in 100 years.
More than two-thirds of American adults can access some form of legal cannabis. In many of those states, consumers have more choice than ever before, affording the ability to select the right cultivar and product form to best fit their needs. And at the core of the matter is one of safety: Qualified adults can walk in and purchase a product they know is regulated, tested, and contains what it says on the label.
As the industry grows, the rise in demand for products like ingestibles provides a lower barrier to entry for new consumers, especially those averse to inhalation of all kinds. While combustible cannabis products remain the most popular product type among adults nationwide, the continued diversification of product types provides options for every consumer’s preferences and needs.
Ingestibles like edibles are second in popularity only to flower, with 56% of adult use consumers trying ingestible products within the past year, according to New Frontier Data. Creative infused products like drinks, seasoning salt, and dried fruit were not even an option in dispensaries just a few years ago.
In addition to edibles, topicals and non-intoxicating products help lessen the barrier of entry for new consumers. Infused lotions and serums, for example, are a great option for those looking to relieve pain from ailments like arthritis without feeling “high” from THC. Thanks to this evolution in product variety, cannabis has become more accessible to those who aren’t interested in inhaling, or even feeling intoxicated.
Age isn’t a limit
Older adults are among the fastest-growing group of cannabis consumers. Whether returning to cannabis after many years or exploring cannabis for the first time, older adults can now try cannabis in a safe, legal environment that many never thought was possible. And as education dispels prohibition-era falsehoods, many feel open to trying cannabis even if they never before thought they ever would.
For Ethos-Pleasant Hill product associate Beth Lacey, a 57-year-old grandmother of eight, being a presence in the dispensary brings comfort to older adults who may feel apprehensive about walking in the door. Says Lacey: “It’s a huge relief for someone my age to be able to walk into a store, where they know they’re buying a quality product.” Read more about Beth’s 420 story.
This shift has been bolstered by the increased diversity of product types, which has made cannabis a lot less intimidating and more accessible for older consumers. While some generations were previously hesitant about smoking, the rise of products like edibles and tinctures has made the introduction an easier one. Around 39% of consumers aged 55 years and older report they consume edibles at least once per year.
Additionally, seniors that don’t want to experience the intoxicating effects of THC have a wide range of low- or no-THC options. Products that are high in cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN are now commonplace, offering relief without the cannabis high. For example, topicals can offer localized pain relief with no psychoactive side effects, opening the door to consumers who have no interest in feeling “stoned.”
What the research says about why people consume cannabis
The reasons why people enjoy cannabis are just as varied as the demographics themselves. Here, we’ll explore three of the top reasons: relaxation, anxiety relief, and pain relief.
According to research from New Frontier Data, the top reason for cannabis consumption among American adults is relaxation. More than 20% of consumers cite relaxation as their main reason for purchasing cannabis products. It’s a somewhat unsurprising fact, considering that 60% of Americans report feeling stress or worry daily.
Just as surprising, though, is who consumes cannabis for relaxation. The same research revealed that all ages cite relaxation as the top reason for consuming cannabis. Regardless of demographic, people are turning to cannabis as a way to unwind after a long day, a welcome reprieve from the stressors of everyday life.
In many ways, relaxation and anxiety are closely tied, but the latter is its own reason for buying cannabis products for 14% of adults. Cannabis can be particularly impactful for those managing anxiety. While THC can make anxiety worse for some, products balanced with equal or similar ratios of CBD can modulate THC’s effects, instead calming a nervous mind. It’s also a qualifying condition in many medical cannabis programs, including in Pennsylvania.
For patients like Emily Allan, Marketing Coordinator for Ethos – PA, cannabis for relaxation and to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety are part and parcel of daily cannabis regimen. “Becoming a patient was the best way for me to fully explore how cannabis could help me manage anxiety,” Allan said. Read more of Emily’s 420 Story.
The prominence of use for pain management is a factor in many age groups, but it’s especially evident among older consumers. Around one-quarter of consumers in the 55 years and older demographic buy cannabis products for pain management-related reasons, whether due to an injury, arthritis, a chronic condition, or simply due to getting older. This figure increases in some states, including in Pennsylvania, where 30% of those 55 and older cite pain management as their top reason for buying cannabis products.
Still, while pain management may be associated with older adults, it’s important to remember that this is not the only demographic that experiences pain relief with cannabis. That’s evidenced by consumers like Aubree Evangelist, an inventory manager at Ethos Cannabis, who found cannabis to be a source of relief from chronic migraines. After trial and error with various prescription medications, Aubree says it wasn’t until a friend suggested cannabis that she began to have hope. Read more of Aubree’s 420 story.
Cannabis – and 4/20 – is for everyone
Every cannabis consumer is part of a diverse, vibrant community, from medical patients who seek relief from their symptoms to social butterflies who enjoy cannabis to relax after a long day. Among the “1 in 5” who consume cannabis are a diverse array of Americans defying long-held stereotypes about who looks like a cannabis consumer.
You don’t need to wear pot leaf earrings or share a lengthy ode to the plant on Facebook to celebrate cannabis. No matter how you incorporate cannabis into your daily life – or how loudly you do so – 4/20 is a reminder that cannabis is for you, exactly as you are.
We want to hear from you. Whatever you think. At Ethos, you’re at home and your voice is heard.