Who Consumes the Most Cannabis?

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If you were to guess who uses more cannabis, what would you presume?

While it may be easy to think that males are puffing the most, the answer is not quite as clear, and we wonder if the statistics aren’t really showing the whole story.

As the curious folks, we are at Oov, we thought we’d dig in a bit to see what studies do (and don’t) say on the subject.

What do statistics say?

In 2008, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor looked at substance abuse statistics and recognized that “Adult men are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have a drug abuse/dependence disorder, but this current gender difference may reflect differences in opportunity, rather than vulnerability to drug use.”

The aspect of opportunity highlighted in this study is something we’ll look at later.

A 2016 Columbia University study examined the use of cannabis in men and women over a period of time. In the early 2000’s, use was at about 13% for men and 7% for women. As of 2014, 17% of men and 10% of women admit to using cannabis, a result of the era of legalization

Headset, a point of sale and cannabis retail data analytics company showed that the ratio of male to female shoppers at legal cannabis stores is 2:1. However, the same company also showed that women users outnumber men within the generation X (35.55%) and baby boomer (38.04%) generations.

A recent study of the population of Australia showed that 14% of women use cannabis daily, compared with 12% of men.

We at Oov recognize and think that it should be taken into consideration that these studies do not include non-binary individuals. Additionally, we believe that there are A LOT more women using cannabis out there that are willing to disclose, which may be a result of gendered responsibilities and expectations.

Who’s talking about it?

In some pockets of the USA, it appears individuals identified as female are talking about cannabis more than those identified as male.

High Times reported on a recent study completed by Dank Geek that looked at trends of what those they identified as women and those they identified as men were talking about on Twitter in regard to cannabis vs. alcohol. They geotagged the posts and noticed some interesting trends within 5 states: in Hawaii, Arkansas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Missouri, women are talking about cannabis on social media more than men. Of these states, only Hawaii and Arkansas permit cannabis use for medical purposes. In the other states, it remains totally illegal. So if women in only these five states are hitting social media platforms like Twitter to talk about cannabis, what does this mean?

When you look at it, within the 28 legal medical states and 8 states that permit recreational use, 3 states isn’t a lot. While the above-mentioned states are exercising their freedom of speech, the silence of women in the other legal states is saying much more. 

It all comes down to opportunity

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor study highlighted that cannabis use was greater in men, but this current difference may be more gendered than a simple presence or absence of interest in medicinal/recreational use. Men simply just have it easier when it comes to being able to openly use or disclose their cannabis use than women, and it all comes down to opportunity and stigma:

It’s more common for men to have a social circle in which cannabis use is a shared activity. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to consume cannabis for personal or health reasons, such as dealing with anxiety or pain related to reproductive health.

There is also a social stigma against women enjoying cannabis, especially if they are parents. They fear disclosing their cannabis use because they worry about having Child Protective Services called, or are afraid of being judged for their cannabis use.

Thankfully, communities like Oov and so many other folx out there are working to challenge that stigma by opening up about cannabis’ importance in their lives

The cannabis future is female/fluid

While these statistics on cannabis do not take into account non-binary individuals and aren’t yet showing females as the cannabis users that they are, the cannabis future is female/fluid!

There is a strong awareness in the community that we need a level playing field in cannabis spaces for all genders. Despite Oov reporting that there was a 10% decline in female CEO’s in cannabis companies between 2015 and 2017, a recent survey shows that women have a majority ownership in 57% of businesses. Based on those numbers, we hope to find brands reaching out and appealing to non-male-identifying users more.

With spaces like Oov, advocates like @themommyjane, and groups like Mothers Mary, who provide a safe space for “medicated mothers,” more parents and other non-male-identifying folx will begin to shed the burden of stigma and fly their cannabis flags proud.

Keep it lifted, beauties!

Anne-Marie is a freelance cannabis writer and educator dedicated to cultivating and disseminating important knowledge about cannabis as legalization spreads across the globe.  After earning her BA and Masters, she followed an exciting career in the research and education field, finding innovative ways to create collaborations between community needs and research and academic pursuits.
Based in Canada, she is a full time writer for the world’s best cannabis companies, advocates and organizations.


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