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BDSA’s top cannabis consumer insights for 2022

With legal cannabis spreading to more states every year, we are nearing the milestone of 50% of adults in the US with access to legal cannabis! As legal access has spread, attitudes toward cannabis across the country have warmed, and more Americans are choosing to consume. In BDSA’s newest wave of Consumer Insights data, states with adult-use cannabis markets passed another milestone:  More than 50% of adults (21+) surveyed claim to have consumed cannabis in the past six months. 

This expansion of the consumer landscape is huge news, but far from the only notable nugget of data gold that can be pulled from our new, granular, Consumer Insights survey. When we look deeper into the data, we see a cannabis consumer base that is knowledgeable, open to trying new product formats, and willing to experiment with incorporating cannabis consumption into more occasions throughout their lives. 

Consumer participation continues to climb in adult-use markets

Per BDSA Consumer Insights, ALMOST 80% of the adult population in fully legal states have “bought in” to consuming cannabis, with 51% claiming past 6-month consumption, and 26% of non-consumers saying they are open to cannabis consumption. With this share up from just 73% in Fall 2021, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of room for even the most mature markets to grow their consumer share. Notable in this group of mature markets with room for growth is California, where just 47% of respondents claimed past six-month consumption in Spring 2022.

Cannabis consumption in medical markets is also seeing a steady rise

Overall consumer participation is lower in medical markets, but BDSA data suggest that consumer participation is growing at a similar rate. Between Spring 2020 and Spring 2022, the share of adults who report past six-month consumption ballooned from just 26% to 41%. Over that same period, the share of cannabis rejecters, those who do not plan to consume in the future, fell from 34% to 28%. 

Not only are there more cannabis consumers than ever, but consumer knowledge and confidence are also growing 

As more people try legal cannabis, consumers are becoming more sophisticated. In Spring 2022, ~35% of consumers in adult-use markets claimed that they view themselves as “cannabis connoisseurs”, up from ~25% in Spring 2019. While some consumers still hold on to misconceptions about cannabis, consumers as a whole are very knowledgeable, with BDSA Consumer Insights data showing that 82% of consumers in Spring 2022 know about the difference between CBD and THC. 

Those who consume are consuming more often, and more consumers are pairing cannabis with alcohol and a variety of activities 

Some primary consumption occasions for alcohol and cannabis are very different, with alcohol being the substance of choice for high energy activities and parties, while cannabis is king when it’s time to chill out or get creative. That said, there are several consumption occasions, such as hanging out, or relaxing at the end of the day, that present opportunities for both alcohol and cannabis consumption. The share of consumers who report pairing cannabis with different types of alcohol has risen significantly. The share of consumers in adult-use markets who report pairing cannabis with spirits or liquor rose from 12% in Spring 2018 to 22% in Spring 2022, while the share who report cannabis with cocktails doubled to total 20% in Spring 2022.  

BDSA Consumer Insights data also show that more consumers are pairing cannabis with  activities not typically associated with cannabis. The share of consumers in adult-use markets claiming that they pair cannabis with fine dining rose from 14% in Spring 2020 to 25% in Spring 2022, while the share of those who report using cannabis while exercising rose from 18% in Spring 2020 to 26% in Spring 2022.  

While these increases may not seem shocking to savvy industry insiders, they demonstrate that the use occasions for cannabis are incredibly varied. They also show an opportunity for brands that can produce products with form factors and targeted formulations that speak to these varied need states and use occasions. 


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