A2020 survey conducted by Wikileaf presents key findings about cannabis consumption among adults in the United States. The survey was completed by 1,042 adults located in all nine Census Bureau divisions of the US. Participants were aged 18 – 60+ years old with household incomes ranging from $0 – $200,000+.
The survey participants were asked to report the following:
- Frequency of cannabis consumption
- Honesty with their doctors about cannabis use
- Estimated number of annual doctor visits
- Household income
The following summarizes the survey’s most significant results.
Daily cannabis users likely to be honest with doctors about consumption
Although most states have legalized cannabis, it remains illegal at the federal level. This statutory hurdle and decades of anti-cannabis propaganda have contributed to a stigma that persists despite the changing legal landscape. However, the results of Wikileaf’s survey indicate that fear of that stigma may be on the decline.
According to the survey, people who consume cannabis less than once a month are most likely to be 100% honest with their doctors about their cannabis use. That’s to be expected given the legal and cultural bias against cannabis consumption. However, the second most honest group is made up of folks who use pot every day. Of the survey participants who use cannabis daily, 71.4 % reported that they are 100% honest with their doctors about their cannabis use.
The cannabis legalization movement has gained popularity as research about the medicinal uses of then plant becomes more well-known. According to a 2019 JAMA Network survey, individuals with medical conditions are more likely to use cannabis than those without a medical condition. In combination with Wikileaf’s survey results, this data suggests that daily cannabis consumers may be treating medical conditions and may be more willing to discuss their cannabis consumption with their doctors.
Women are more honest than men about cannabis use, but there’s a catch
Of the people who report being 100% honest about their cannabis use with their doctors, a slight majority (50.6% to 49.4%) were women. Women also outranked men in the “mostly honest” and “somewhat honest” categories. But here’s the twist: of the survey participants who reported that they are “not at all honest” with their doctors about cannabis use, 66.7% were women.
It’s difficult to explain why most individuals who are totally dishonest about their cannabis use are women, but one possibility is cannabis policy surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Even in states where cannabis is legal, women who are pregnant or who have just delivered a child may face legal action including separation from their children if they admit to or test positive for cannabis use.
Frequent cannabis use and income are inversely related
People with a household income of $25,000 to $49,999 consume cannabis most often. Of the participants who reported using cannabis every day, 28.5% (the majority) fell in that income range. Individuals making that income consumed cannabis most frequently among the participants who reported using cannabis a few times a week and a few times a month as well. However, cannabis use declined as income increased, with the least frequent cannabis consumers making a household income of $100,000 or more.
There are a variety of possible explanations for this, but one may be the affordability of medicinal cannabis for patients who do not have or who choose not to use medical insurance. Cannabis isn’t covered by insurance in most cases, but if you live in a state where you can legally grow it or your friend can give it to you, it may be an affordable option.
Cannabis consumption rates are surprisingly high in the U.S. South
Cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational use in every state that makes up the West Coast, so it’s no surprise that the majority of people who smoke every day live in the Pacific. What is surprising is that the folks on the Pacific tied with cannabis consumers in the South Atlantic, a U.S. region comprised of Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Cannabis is illegal in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It is only legal for medicinal use in Delaware, Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia. The survey results are yet another indicator that cannabis prohibition is an ineffective policy. Whether it’s legal or not, people who want to use cannabis will find a way to do it.
Younger generations consume pot less often than Older Millennials
Anti-drug campaigns targeted at children may be working. Cannabis use has decreased with the youngest Millennials and Gen Z. Of the participants who reported consuming cannabis daily, 34.2% were aged 30-44 while 28.1% were aged 18-29. These two age groups tied for most cannabis consumption of the participants who smoke a few times a week, though the youngest demographic is less interested in consuming pot than the generation before them.
These survey findings fall in line with existing research on Gen Z showing that the younger generation consumes cannabis and alcohol less than Millennials. They’re also less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. Part of that caution may be a result of growing up with hundreds if not thousands of followers watching their every move online. The influence of social media may have made Gen Z-ers more unwilling to take certain risks.
Close to 11% of U.S. Adults are Everyday Cannabis Users
Out of the 1042 survey participants, 10.9% stated that they consumed cannabis every day. These results suggest that for almost 11% of adults in the U.S., cannabis consumption is a daily practice.
As cannabis legalization catches on from state to state and legislation such as the MORE Act is passed by the House, we should expect cannabis consumption to increase. The rising rate of consumption sends an important message to all stakeholders in the cannabis space, from the consumer to the policymaker, to the entrepreneur: cannabis prohibition is over whether the laws reflect that or not.