1 in 4 Americans Consume Cannabis, Study Shows

1 in 4 Americans Consume Cannabis, Study Shows

Americans have come a long way when it comes to cannabis legalization and consumption. In 1969, Gallup’s first poll on cannabis legalization found that only 12% of Americans favoured cannabis legalization (1).

Public opinion on cannabis legalization and consumption has changed a lot since. Cannabis legalization is building more momentum in the US, and attitudes surrounding consumption have drastically evolved.

Cannabis Consumption on the Rise

Recently, a national study (2) conducted by YouGov, a public opinion and data company, in partnership with Sunnyside, a national retail dispensary brand of Cresco Labs, found that about one in four Americans consumed cannabis over the past year.

The report also found that 23% of current cannabis consumers have tried it for the first time in the past year. This suggests that the pandemic played a role in increasing the public’s interest in cannabis use, whether for leisure or medicinal purposes. The pandemic has also coincided with sweeping cannabis legalization bills across the United States. This has undoubtedly played a role in shaping public perception.

It’s quite a leap from 2018, when just over 15% of U.S. adults reported cannabis consumption (3).

What does this mean?

1 in 4 Americans Consume Cannabis, Study Shows

This is a promising trend for both cannabis businesses and consumers alike. With the rise in cannabis consumption, we can expect more innovative cannabis products hitting the market, lowered stigmatization surrounding consumption, and increased accessibility towards treating ailments for medicinal users.

Of the notable findings, Cris Rivera, senior vice president of retail marketing and customer experience at Cresco Labs said, “Whether it’s the stressors of a global pandemic or increased accessibility due to expanded state decriminalization, cannabis has become the leading CPG [consumer packaged goods] category for exploration as people flock to dispensaries to discover the range of novel formats and modern products available to them.” (4)

Other Noteworthy Findings about Americans consuming Cannabis

Other general findings from the study include:

  • 44% of American cannabis consumers believe 4/20 should be recognized as a national holiday.
  • 44% of parents with underage children declared having tried cannabis for the first time in the past 12 months.
  • 43% of seniors (aged 65+) also tried cannabis for the first time in the past year.
  • Men and women use cannabis equally.

When asked why people consume cannabis, the answers were consistent across the board:

  • 56% use cannabis to relieve anxiety and/or stress
  • 48% use cannabis to help treat insomnia
  • 48% consume it to enhance their mood

And the top reason for cannabis consumption across all age groups? To relieve anxiety and stress.

Findings on 4/20 Celebrations


When it comes to 4/20 celebrations, most people are on board. In the study, half of the respondents between the ages of 21 and 54 said they would “try or will consider trying” a new product on 4/20. About a quarter of men said they plan to try to find deals and sales on 4/20, whereas 20% of female respondents said they are planning a day of wellness.

Jason Erkes, CCO of Cresco Labs, isn’t surprised. Of the 4/20 celebrations Erkes noted, “I think this year’s 4/20 is shaping up to be a perfect storm with increased consumption over the last year, more people being vaccinated and comfortable being around others, as well as a significant number of new consumers entering the cannabis market.” (5)

The Future of Cannabis Use in America

I suspect with more legalization sweeping the United States, and more people flocking to cannabis amid the pandemic, consumption will continue to rise.

Do the results of this study surprise you? Has your cannabis consumption changed amid the pandemic? Let us know.