A study of consumer attitudes released recently found that residents of states with legal cannabis have a positive view of the regulated marketplace. Results of the research, “Consumer perceptions of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ cannabis in US states with legal cannabis sales,” were released online last month ahead of the publication of the study in the journal Addictive Behaviors early next year.
To conduct the study, researchers with the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health in Canada surveyed adult consumers in states with legal cannabis and asked them about their views of the regulated marketplace. Investigators surveyed 5,530 respondents residing in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
The study examined consumer perceptions of quality, price, convenience, and safety of use and purchasing cannabis from legal versus illegal sources in U.S. states with legal retail sales. The study also attempted to examine associations between cannabis use, length of time since legal sales began, and perceptions of legal cannabis.
Well over half (59.2%) of the survey participants reported that, compared to an illicit supplier, cannabis was more convenient to obtain from a licensed source and 56.1% said it was a safer way to purchase cannabis. Additionally, 37.6% of consumers said that they believed the quality of the cannabis offered at licensed businesses was superior to what can be purchased from unlicensed sellers, although more than 30% of respondents said that legal cannabis is more expensive. Less than 15% of respondents in any state reported that legal cannabis was less expensive than that purchased from unlicensed sources. The study also found that 40.3% of those surveyed felt that cannabis purchased from legal sources was safer to use than unregulated products.
Better Over Time
Researchers also found that consumer perceptions varied according to the length of time since legal cannabis sales began. Respondents living in more mature legal markets that had legalized marijuana earlier were more likely to perceive legal cannabis as being of higher quality. The survey also found that consumers in mature markets were less likely to say that legal pot was more expensive.
“The current findings suggest generally positive perceptions of the legal cannabis market. Most respondents, including frequent cannabis consumers, perceived legal cannabis to be of equal or greater quality and convenience, and as safer to buy and use than cannabis from illegal sources,” the authors of the new study wrote.
Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), noted in a statement about the research that no state that has approved the medicinal use of marijuana or cannabis for use by adults has ever repealed its legalization measures.
“This data once again affirms that most voters do not experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ following marijuana legalization,” he said. “In the minds of most Americans, these laws are operating as voters intended and in a manner that is consistent with their expectations.”
The findings of the study are consistent with a poll conducted in April which found that more than half of respondents in states with legal cannabis believed that legalization was a success overall.