Forty-Two Percent of American Adults Use Cannabis

A new report dives into the trends and facts about today’s cannabis consumer.

A new report called Cannabis Consumers in America 2023: Part 1 was recently release by New Frontier Data on May 2. The study analyzes a wide variety of trends and demographics of the modern cannabis consumer.

According to New Frontier Data CEO Gary Allen, more than 42% of adults have used cannabis and say that they will use it again. “Cannabis consumers are diverse with users spread across age groups, genders, economic brackets and political affiliations,” said Allen in a press release. “With 42% of U.S. adults having used cannabis and likely to do so again, and another 15% expressing interest in trying cannabis in the future, acceptance and receptiveness continues to grow, creating massive opportunities in both new and emerging markets.”

The survey sample size included 5,534 participants, which was broken down into 4,358 cannabis consumers and 1,176 non-cannabis consumers, who were surveyed in Q1 of 2023.

The survey found that 37% of U.S. adults are considered to be “current consumers” who either consume pot annually and plan to do so in the future, while 30% of Americans have never used pot, and don’t intend to. Additionally, 15% of Americans have never tried cannabis but are interested in doing so, and 13% are former consumers who no longer partake.

New Frontier Data also published a 2022 analysis of American consumers. In comparison, the number of current consumers increased from 39% in 2022 to 42% in 2023. For those who have never used cannabis and don’t intend to, the number dropped from 34% in 2022 to 30% in 2023. 

The study also reviews results from participants of different age ranges being asked about their past month of cannabis use between 2017 and 2021. Since 2017, the percentage of adults between 18-20 has decreased by 8% and increased by 20% for those 21-25. Some of the biggest increases in that four-year period included adults ages 65+ with a 96% increase, and adults ages 40-44 with a 64% increase. Across the board, all age groups increased significantly, with the exception of the 18–20-year-olds.

Approximately 74% of people in the U.S. live in a state with some kind of legal framework, and 48% live in an adult-use state while only 26% reside in a state with only medical cannabis.

In terms of product popularity, 2022 data from legal cannabis markets show that flower still dominates most product share of sales with 43%, followed by vapes at 29%, edibles (including beverages) at 11%, and extracts at 9%. Tinctures, topicals or “other” all reflect 1% or less of product share.

The race or ethnic identity is mainly broken up between white (63%), Hispanic/Latinx (14%), Black (14%), Mixed/multi-racial (4%), Asian (3%), and Other (2%). Currently, a majority of consumers are men at 54% and women at 46%. 

Participants showed that 70% of consumers use cannabis to target a specific objective. A majority of consumers, about 83%, use cannabis for “unwinding (relaxation, stress, or anxiety)” and 61% use it for improved sleep. Most consumers use cannabis while watching videos, television or movies at home (56%), listening to music (52%), sleeping (45%), browsing the internet (37%), eating (36%), spending time with family/partner (35%), socializing (33%), playing video games (32%), and doing housework or chores (30%). (Under 30% includes activities such as cooking, having sex, spending time in nature, and drinking alcohol.)

Most medical cannabis consumers use it to treat diagnosed conditions such as chronic pain (46%), migraines (21%), PTSD (17%), and osteoarthritis (10%). The average consumer typically uses cannabis for symptoms such as pain (64%), anxiety (55%), depression (41%), insomnia (40%), and inflammation (28%). Ninety-four percent of consumers say that their medical conditions or symptoms improved after consuming cannabis.

According to the survey results, 77% of flower consumers say that strains are important, while 47% are more interested in minor cannabinoid and terpene profiles. “Despite recently increased industry focus on minor cannabinoids and terpenes, most consumers still use strains to make decisions,” New Frontier Data stated.

For consumers who prefer edibles, gummies lead by a large margin at 84% for most common edible, followed by 50% who enjoy cookies or brownies, 42% choose chocolates, and 22% prefer beverages. Most consumers who choose edibles will consume 2-4 mg (14%), 5 mg (18%), or 10 mg (17%).

Cannabis Consumers in America 2023: Part 1 contains a wealth of information about cannabis consumers today, with 45 pages of charts and data on other topics such as spending trends, where consumers choose to buy their product, brand loyalty, social consumption details, perspective on policy, and more.

  1. I think there’s some incorrect info in here. The race/ethnicity data seems to be a general breakdown of Americans, not of cannabis consumers. And I have a hard time believing that 37% of American adults consume cannabis yearly. It would be great, but that’s like 2 out of every 5 people.

  2. Michelle. I remember seeing High Times offering a direct to consumer investment in their shares. I work in finance and looked the the financials. They were not good. The valuation was absurd. Anyone who bought shares did so based on supporting the cause or based on nostalgia etc. I don’t think the business model evolved with the right consultants to change the dynamic for todays digital world. Here we are and I’m the third comment. That’s very poor performance.

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