Who's Using Cannabis?

Oct, 2021 by Cannabiz Wholesaler


“Who’s using cannabis?” isn’t just something parents yell as they bang on their teenager’s bedroom door. It’s an actual statistical analysis – the results of which can make or break players across this growing global industry.

So – who’s using cannabis?
Kacey Morrissey, Senior Director of Industry Analytics for New Frontier Data, lays it out in numbers based on the company’s Global Cannabis Report. “Cannabis represents a market of global consequence, with consumers globally spending $415 billion annually.” It concludes that “further social acceptance and normalization of cannabis use will unveil a massive consumer group with corresponding buying potential.”

In all, an estimated 268 million people consumed cannabis at least once during 2020, the firm’s data show.

“During two years since New Frontier Data’s last global market outlook, the legal cannabis industry has undergone accelerated liberalization, normalization, and commercialization,” Morrissey noted in the company’s email blast to the media. “Beyond record sales of cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, two broad global themes have fueled the expansion of legal access to cannabis – growing acceptance of the plant’s therapeutic value, and recognition of the industry’s potential as a catalyst for economic growth.”

The estimated number of cannabis consumers per region “is heavily dependent on the population size, demographic age ranges and average rates of past-year cannabis use in the individual countries that compose each region,” she reported. “While Asia – the world’s most populous region – by default has the highest count of cannabis consumers (with an estimated 93.8 million), the continent nevertheless has comparatively lower cannabis usage rates than any other region, giving it both the largest number and lowest density of cannabis consumers globally.”

But North America stands out, the blast emphasized. It is “home to the highest rates of cannabis use, with those in Canada and the United States (accommodated by liberal social policies) both supporting the advancement of legalization and establishment of robust regulated markets. The legalization of cannabis leads to higher reported rates of use, and acts as the single-most important factor in the growth of a national cannabis consumer base.”

A combined 141 million Americans live across 18 adult-use states, and 239 million live in 38 medical-use states, reported investingdaily.com, “which means 43% of American adults currently have access to legal adult-use cannabis, and 72% of Americans have access to legal medical cannabis. Mexico recently became the latest country to fully legalize possession and use for adults, a move that will serve to spur similar developments in other countries, especially in Latin America. Mexico is now positioning itself as a low-cost alternative to marijuana that’s grown in the U.S. and Canada.”

Across legal country markets, the report concludes, “sales of high-THC cannabis totaled nearly $24 billion in 2020, with sales forecast to double to over $50 billion by 2025.”

‘High’ Schools
The web site studyfinds.org has reported that cannabis use among college students and their peers reached historically high levels in 2020.

“In fact, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) say marijuana use hasn’t been this high since the 1980s,” the group found. “However, the report shows both marijuana vaping and nicotine vaping trends leveled off a bit last year after experiencing big increases starting in 2017 among college-aged adults. As for other drugs, use of hallucinogens among college students increased in 2020, while alcohol consumption actually dropped significantly between 2019 and 2020.”

The COVID-19 pandemic “dramatically changed the way that young people interact with one another and offers us an opportunity to examine whether drug-taking behavior has shifted through these changes,” NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., said in a release. “Moving forward, it will be critical to investigate how and when different substances are used among this young population, and the impact of these shifts over time.”

“On an annual basis,” studyfinds.org continued, “marijuana use among college students has increased continually over the past five years. In 2020, it reached its highest level in three-and-ahalf decades. Close to half of college students in the poll (44%) reported using marijuana at some point in 2020. In 2015, that percentage was 38%. Similarly, 43% of college-aged adults not enrolled in school reported using cannabis.

“Somewhat surprisingly, marijuana use among 12th-grade high school students hasn’t seen the same exponential growth. In 2020, 38% of high school seniors reported using cannabis.”

Daily cannabis use among college students last year was recorded at 8%, compared to 13% of same-age individuals not in college. In 2015, daily cannabis use among college students was 5%, according to the data.

Another key insight is who is not consuming cannabis, or at least not any more of it. According to filtermag.org, youth marijuana use “does not increase after states enact legalization for medical or adult use,” citing researchers in a recently published study. “The policy change instead has an overall impact on adolescent cannabis consumption that is ‘statistically indistinguishable from zero.’”

The research, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the adoption of recreational cannabis legalization “was not associated with current marijuana use or frequent marijuana use… Cannabis legalization laws might be decreasing teen use.”

Listing cannabis consumers by region for 2020, the report shows:

- Asia: 93.8 million
- Africa: 59.2 million
- North America: 49.6 million
- Europe: 44.2 million
- Latin America: 16.4 million
- Oceania: 3.6 million
- Caribbean: 1.3 million

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