Will Generation Z Americans be the nation’s biggest cannabis consumers?

Over the next decade, Gen Z'ers and Millennials are expected to spend $50 billion on cannabis products from North America's legal market

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Will Generation Z Americans be the nation’s biggest cannabis consumers?

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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The 71 million people that constitute the Gen Z consumer demographic in the United States are making a significant impact on the American consumer economy. Approximately 31 million of those people are in the age range of 18-24.

Based on a 2018 report by Research and Markets, Gen Z young adults generate an aggregate income of $463 billion. Key findings from the report indicate the following:

  • Expenditures of Gen Z consumer units total $260 billion
  • Gen Z young adults are more politically engaged
  • Gen Z young adults are less likely to buy online than Millennials

Gen Z’ers in the U.S. are growing up in a world where the cannabis plant is gaining a new and much more respected identity. More brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensaries are opening their doors all of the time. And since cannabis is edging closer toward federal acceptance, Gen Z’ers are expected to become seasoned cannabis consumers in the near future.

They’re growing up in a world where cannabis is completely normal,” said the co-founder and chief content officer of Los Angeles-based cannabis publication and accessories store Miss Grass, Anna Duckworth. “Everybody will know how to roll a joint and there won’t be any shame talking about it.”

Over the next decade, Gen Z’ers and Millennials are expected to spend $50 billion on cannabis products from North America’s legal market. Despite the fact that cannabis is still illegal at federal level in the U.S., the cannabis industry pulled in $10 billion last year in sales revenue.

Regulations are becoming more relaxed countrywide, and although it is difficult to generalize about the cannabis-consuming habits of Generation Z’ers, data shows that this consumer demographic accounted for one percent of all legal cannabis sales within the first few months of 2018.

Cannabis research is helping to debunk the stoner stereotype, which tarnished the plant with a bad reputation following the reefer madness propaganda that ensued in the 1930s. Plus, with 33 U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed medical cannabis laws. With an additional 10 U.S. states legalizing recreational cannabis, it is now much more widely accepted to consume the once-feared plant.

“It’s becoming much more palatable,” said the managing director of cannabis research firm Brightfield Group, Bethany Gomez. “It’s not crazy to think the usage rate could eventually be similar to alcohol.”

Gen Z’ers aren’t the only consumer demographic that is welcoming weed with open arms. The percentage of Americans who support cannabis legalization has doubled in the last 20 years. What’s more, over 60 percent can legally buy/get a prescription for pot, with medical cannabis programs having been launched countrywide.

The convenience and discretion that comes with using cannabis products such as vaporizers, edibles, lotions, and capsules are appealing to Gen Z’ers, many of whom may not want to have to consume the plant in its smokable form in order to reap the medical benefits.

Even though the plant hasn’t been legalized at federal level just yet, many of America’s multi-state cannabis operators have some of the highest company valuations in the modern world. This indicates just how lucrative the market is; majorly influenced by the emergence of scientific data exposing the cannabis plant’s therapeutic and medicinal qualities.

As legislation continues to sweep across the United States, the stigma surrounding cannabis will undoubtedly be lifted, thus encouraging more Gen Z’ers to try it for either medical or recreational purposes.