Generational Trends in Marijuana Use

Two Old Men Smoking Cannabis in Field
Photo by: Vladimir Simovic/Shutterstock

Two Old Men Smoking Cannabis in Field
Photo by: Vladimir Simovic/Shutterstock
It’s impossible to ignore that marijuana use is becoming more and more acceptable. The latest Gallup poll revealed an unprecedented record high in the percentage of adults who approve of marijuana. A full 64% of the respondents said that marijuana use should be made legal. Another study released this year by Yahoo News and Marist revealed that 52% of adults 18 and over have tried marijuana. And of those that have tried it, 44% are current users.

All that to say, people are finally getting more comfortable admitting they use cannabis, and the numbers are there to prove it. The next natural question is: who are the people buying and using this weed?

Surprising Statistics

The market data company Headset decided to answer this question by putting together a comprehensive report. It’s based on information collected from Washington state during September 2017 and cross-referenced with more than 150,000 marijuana products. This provides great information for marketers, but is intriguing in its own right since it breaks down who’s buying what. In this study, Millennials are those under 35. Generation X is 35-53, Baby Boomers are 54-75, and the Silent Generation is made up of those age 76 and up.

Who Buys by Generation

The generational breakdown shakes out pretty much how you’d expect, with Millennials leading the pack in percentage of total market sales.

  • Millennials: 51%
  • Generation X: 34%
  • Baby Boomers: 15%

The Silent Generation didn’t do much to make a meaningful dent in sales, but were surveyed on their marijuana use anyway.

Another interesting finding is that while men make up the majority of customers in each generation, women make up markedly different percentages among generations. Women are:

  • 38% of the Baby Boomer market
  • 35% of the Generation X market
  • 31% of the Millennial market
  • 22% of the Silent Generation market

What They Buy

Marijuana Vape Pen
Photo by: Doug Shutter/Shutterstock
Some things never change, and every generation preferred marijuana products in flower form over anything else. But things got interesting when respondents were asked about their second favorite way to use cannabis.

  • Millennials: Cannabis concentrates & pre-rolled joints
  • Generation X: Vape pens
  • The Silent Generation: Topical products

The Baby Boomers actually dabbled in just about everything, showing no general trends in their preference of alternatives to smoking.

How They Spend

One of the most interesting revelations in this study is that although more Millennials buy weed than any other generation, they aren’t spending the most money. The study calculated the average “basket” price of what each generation spends on a usual trip to the dispensary.

  • Millennials: $13.87
  • Generation X: $15.33
  • Baby Boomers: $17.16
  • The Silent Generation: $21.09

These differences in average amount spent per visit is mostly attributable to generational differences in income. Until you hit the Silent Generation. They spend the most money partly because they’re shelling out for things like topicals, which carry a higher premium than most other products. But they also showed a preference for more expensive flower, in addition to buying more pure indica or sativa strains as opposed to hybrids.

As cannabis continues its slow march toward full legalization, it’ll be interesting to watch these trends and see how things shake out, especially once the stoner stigma is lifted. Until then, just know that you and your grandparents might have more in common than you think.

Article by: Spencer Grey