As more states move towards legalizing cannabis, it only makes sense that more people tried the drug in 2018 compared to the previous year— in fact, first-time usage was up 140 percent—according to a new report from Eaze, a cannabis marketplace in California.
The report, which looked at cannabis consumption behavior of Gen Zers, millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, outlines major trends among these four different generations of consumers.
For example, Eaze’s purchase data found that people are using cannabidiol (CBD) more, as the data jumped from 2.6 percent to 4.8 percent year-over-year, with baby boomers as the “fastest growing segment” of users, with a 25 percent increase year-over-year. In 2018, people ordered cannabis every 8 seconds. Eaze used data from its database of 450,000 customers and a survey of more than 4,000 people in California.
Though, big caveat here: Eaze declined to give a baseline of its data, so we don’t know, for example what the reported percentage spikes mean. (The numbers reported also do not include information from Eaze Wellness, the company’s CBD marketplace that debuted in November. While the data then becomes hazier, directionally, though, it shows the potency of policy and how consumers have reacted.)
“I think [that] legalization has had a huge impact,” said Peter Gigante, head of policy research at Eaze. “The medical system required people to get doctor recommendations and it was more barrier-focused. You’re now in a legal market, [which] frees people up to explore the question of, ‘how do I access this?'”
Cannabis users are made up of people with a wide array of uses for the product
According to the report, 3 percent of cannabis users are veterans, 11 percent are people with disabilities and the number of female consumers went up by 92 percent this year, with Eaze estimating that “equal gender representation” will happen by 2022. Currently, women make up 38 percent of all cannabis users.
“We’re excited to see the march towards a 50/50 marketplace, which would reflect the general population,” Gigante said. “There’s still some stigma that cannabis is a young male product or market. [The] cannabis consumer is diversifying and we’re seeing this in the large growth of female participation and also in boomers.”
Within these groups, veterans who use cannabis are 25 percent more likely to quit tobacco than non-veterans, people with disabilities are 27 percent more likely to use CBD and 57 percent of people with disabilities are likely to reduce their medications if they are also consuming cannabis. Along gender lines, women are 67 percent more likely to use cannabis for personal care versus 50 percent of men and 84 percent of women use it for sleep compared to 79 percent of men.
Who’s buying the most and what?
Though the average age of cannabis consumers is 31, baby boomers are giving them a run for their money, growing 25 percent year-over-year. They spend the most monthly on average, capping out at $95.04 compared to Gen X who spend $89.14, millennials that spend $73.94 and Gen Z buying at $62.35. Overall, the average monthly order volume went up 29 percent, with baby boomers at 35 percent, Gen X at 28 percent, millennials at 25 percent and Gen Z at 28 percent.
Items such as preroll, edibles and vapes are also selling more than flower products—the pure form of cannabis. Women, for example, are 6 percent more likely to buy edibles, whereas men are 3 percent more likely to buy the pure flower. Edibles in a gummy from are more popular than chocolate bars, cookies, mints or bites.
Unsurprisingly, with CBD products taking over social media, the number of CBD consumers doubled in 2018, with female boomers making up 21 percent. Of those who take CBD, 61 percent felt it helped them relax, 41 percent said it helped with anxiety, 41 percent for stress and 40 percent for pain relief.
“I think CBD will continue to grow in popularity,” Gigante said. “One of the things we’ll hopefully see is more research into CBD products [like] understanding its effect [and] understanding [CBD] dosage better.”
One notable stat: Green Wednesday, known as the day before Thanksgiving, became the top day for cannabis sales in 2018—beating 4/20. Gigante said it’s likely due to people stocking up before the holidays, sharing it with family members—or dealing with the stress of said family.
Cannabis is decreasing people’s need for other medication
The report also found that 75 percent of women lowered or stopped their usage of over-the-counter (OTC) medications compared to 68 percent of men and boomers were 76 percent more likely to reduce or no longer use these products. For users who consumed a higher dosage of cannabis (which Eaze defines as more than 40 mg), 79 percent were more likely to stop using OTC medication versus 75 percent who took a medium dosage (11mg to 40mg) and 68 percent who took a low one (0-10mg).
Women are 36 percent more likely than men to lower their need for prescribed pain medication. People who took a higher dosage were 51 percent more likely to stop or reduce their prescribed pain medication intake, compared to 39 percent who took a medium dosage or 31 percent who took a low one.
Zeroing in on Gen Z, 32 percent were more likely to lower or completely stop using tobacco products compared to 27 percent of millennials, 17 percent of Gen X and 14 percent of baby boomers. Millennials on the other hand were 63 percent more likely to lower the amount of alcohol they drank than 57 percent of Gen Z, 58 percent of Gen X, and 46 percent of baby boomers.
All of this data points to a market that’s only going to keep growing—especially as more states across the country push for legalization.
“I think the momentum [on cannabis] will continue to increase,” Gigante said. “I think 2019 is going to be a banner year.”