Shattering Cannabis Stigma and Stereotypes: Mary Jane Comes Out of the Shadows

Sharing cannabis stories

One of the most  interesting aspects of launching C2G is that every meeting begins with someone’s cannabis story – a sort of confessional that we don’t seek but is instead volunteered.  Everyone knows someone who is using cannabis for managing pain or another medical need, if not doing so themselves.  If we have learned anything during the launch of C2G, it is that marijuana usage is commonplace and judged very differently than even a decade ago, and even among casual acquaintances, people do not mind voicing their cannabis usage or opinions.

Stomping out Stoner Stereotypes

So, we begin with dispelling the myths. The stoner stereotype remains pervasive.  A perfect example of the happy stoners is presented in the Harold and Kumar series – a pair of irresponsible party-goers in their early twenties who are rendered vapid by its usage and go to extreme lengths to satisfy their junk food craving.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. C2G just completed fielding CannaUse™, the largest study ever conducted on legal marijuana use in the US, conducted among 55,000 households in the US and fielded among members of the IRI / Nielsen National Consumer Panel.  In self-reporting, a majority of Americans (52%) indicated that they had some prior usage of cannabis, translating into 142 million individuals.  Of these, 9% or 25 million have already purchased cannabis legally.  This legal purchase could have occurred at any of the medicinal outlets that are legal in 25 states plus the District of Columbia, or any of the four states that allow recreational usage.

Cannabis is Medicine

Among today’s users, the most common type of cannabis usage in the US is for medicinal purposes and not for “getting high.”  Medicinal cannabis is widely used for pain relief and is viewed as part of a holistic health regimen that includes treatment for ailments such as anxiety, sleep disorders, and relaxation.  It is seen by many as “safer” that addictive opioids and even over-the-counter medications.  From our latest CannaUse™ data, an overwhelming 78% or 215 million Americans favor legalization of cannabis either for medicinal use, recreational use, or both.

Use of Cannabis to Change

Further legalization is on the ballot in several states this election cycle.  Ballot initiatives in California and Nevada are widely expected to pass.  The acceptance (and usage) of cannabis is expected, by C2G at least, to change significantly as legalization continues.  An additional 38% of those polled (105 million Americans) indicated that they would purchase cannabis if it were legal in their state.  We’re a very big country, so the numbers are very large, and the stakes high.

Cannabis Legalization not far behind abortion and climate change as a key 2016 election issue

Candidates and voters take note. From the growth of the economy to the de-institutionalization of our prison system, the issue of cannabis legalization is far reaching, whether or not someone is a potential consumer.

Currently, data from C2G’s 2015 CannaUse study shows that approximately 52% of the adult population over age 21 have used cannabis in their lifetime. That’s 142 million people with first hand experience with cannabis, according to our 2015 CannaUse Study. Approximately 105 million people would be likely purchasers across the United States were there a national market.

31.9% of Americans say they know very much or are an expert on the topic of recreational marijuana legalization.

39.2% say they would be likely to purchase cannabis assuming there were legal retailers in their state of residence.

Pew research has looked at top voter priorities in the upcoming election. 71% see abortion as important. 82% see the environment as important. But what the polls and researchers aren’t looking at is the issue of Cannabis legalization.

According to our CannaUse survey, 56.5% view the issue of cannabis legalization in the US as important to them in the upcoming presidential election.

As our country recovers from a recession, poor job prospects, international unrest, and is increasingly polarized by social issues, one issue stands out as one about growth. Pun intended.

The issue of marijuana legalization, both recreational and medicinal, is one of substantial scope from a medical, business and political perspective. Top voter priorities this year include the economy as number 1, and healthcare as number 4. Cannabis legalization should not be ignored, as it has serious implications for policy issues topping the list. Check out Marijuana Policy Project’s presidential candidate review to see where candidates stand on the issue.

Cannabis legalization is a more important issue than the media or the candidates, or the majority of the population may realize because it is given only quiet attention. It impacts tax burdens, jobs, medical costs, and prison populations, and it should be debated on any “next-gen” platform.

Let’s Talk Cannabis with Leslie Townsend, CEO

At Cannabiz Consumer Group™, we’re excited to be at the forefront of marijuana market research. We bring to the table an experienced group of researchers. All of us look forward to sharing and growing our understanding how the marijuana industry influences and shapes our attitudes and spending on traditional products and services.

Marijuana is a leading growth industry.

As Cannabiz Consumer Group™ launches a set of research services, marijuana is promising growth and change to agriculture, medicine and pharmaceuticals, recreation and tourism.

Already our largest agricultural crop in several states, cannabis is poised to become the largest agricultural crop across the United States.

Additional potential comes from the medicinal marijuana movement, changing physician prescribing and patient decision making; impacting over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceutical utilization for pain, nausea, glaucoma, and other maladies.

Of course, it goes without saying that marijuana is increasingly available legally for recreational use. This latter category promotes growth in tourism, leisure, and convention-related business.

Consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, and more...

Legalization: coming soon to your state.

Fifteen states will be voting on some aspect of  legalization on the coming November ballot, including California and Nevada, two states that are highly likely to add their numbers to the three states that already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Even without these states, cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the US today.

Marijuana policy means choice of revenue or burden of enforcement

In addition to the impact on consumer markets, cannabis will play a significant role in determining the wealth of states, as it has recently in Colorado. It will play a role in determining which states benefit positively from increased tax revenue and decreased costs for law enforcement and incarceration. Conversely, states can experience counter-productive impacts as states around them legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis and place a greater burden on neighboring states to deal with costs of prohibition enforcement.

Rapid expansion with patchwork regulation  means challenges for business.

There remain many hurdles to bring the cannabis market to a mainstream industry. These include a complex regulatory patchwork impacted by municipal, state and federal rules. The banking infrastructure has been slow to process payments for the industry, stymied by federal scheduling of cannabis. Social stigma can hamper progression of the market. All of the aforementioned leading to a fractured approach to the growing, processing, storage, distribution and sale of cannabis.

Investors are aggressively entering this market.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, cannabis companies secured more than $215 million in venture capital funding last year, a year when only three states legalized recreational marijuana.

Consumer spending will be changing.

Cannabiz Consumer Group has been tracking this exciting new industry since 2012.  Our exploratory market research already demonstrates a significant impact on discretionary spending across a wide number of purchase categories, stimulating spending in some and curtailing it in others. It’s time for you to become part of that conversation. We look forward to starting a dialog with you and hearing your opinions. Join us in pioneering the path to cannabis consumers!

Send your comments to leslie@cannabizresearchgroup.com