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One in Five Americans Are Heavy Cannabis Consumers-But Don't Call Them "Stoners"

A new study from YouGov finds Americans-particularly parents of young children-have increased their cannabis consumption to three times per week or more within the past year.


CHICAGO - April 20, 2022 ( Newswire) In the face of a global pandemic and increasingly available legal cannabis in America, the profile of a prototypical "stoner" is rapidly changing. According to a study released today, roughly one in five Americans (19%) are "Heavy Users," consuming cannabis three or more times per week. What's more, the demographic profile of heavy cannabis users runs counter to pop-culture depictions of "stoners" as young, unfettered single males:

  • 55% of Heavy Users are parents with children under the age of 18.
  • 50% are in a committed romantic relationship, including 32% who are married.
  • 43% self-identify as female.
  • 46% are 18-34 years old.
  • 54% are 35-55+ years old.

Consumption frequency is on the rise as well. Roughly one in eight Americans (12%) report consuming cannabis daily, or multiple times per day, and 33% of these daily users report they began consuming at this increased rate within the past 12-months. Among daily users who are parents with children younger than 18, 40% started using daily within the last year.

These findings are part of a national study conducted by Receptor Brands, a U.S. creative services agency focused on transforming the relationship between cannabis brands and their customers, and Sister Merci, a Canadian cananbis marketing firm, in partnership with global public opinion and data company YouGov. The study, conducted in March 2022, examined cannabis consumption, attitudes and purchase behaviors of nearly 2,800 adult Americans.

"As we witness the normalization of cannabis consumption and with 420 right around the corner, we were interested in deconstructing the outdated "stoner" trope and understanding heavy users as well as how consumption habits change over time," said Allison Disney, partner at Receptor Brands, "What we found is that 43% of Heavy Users are women, 55% are parents, 54% are over 35, and 60% percent of them don't think of themselves as 'stoners.' These consumers indicate they're using cannabis weekly or daily for its functional benefits, such as relaxation or sleep , and many of them-especially parents of young children-stepped up their consumption within the past year."

In addition to consumption frequency, the study also explored heavy user's preferences for procuring cannabis, as well as the types of cannabis they routinely consume:

  • While the majority of Heavy Users (51%) purchase from a legal dispensary, 38% source their cannabis illicitly (i.e., unregulated dispensary, mail order, or dealer).
  • 26% of Heavy Users procure cannabis from a friend or family member's home grow.
  • 53% of Heavy Users prefer to consume flower
  • 39% of Heavy Users prefer to consume edibles
  • 14% of Heavy Users prefer beverages or drink enhancers
  • 28% of Heavy Users always or often mix formats when consuming, such as smoking a joint and eating an edible
  • Both Heavy Users and Lighter users (those consuming twice a month or less) are likely to try new products when shopping for cannabis, at 77% and 63% respectively.

"While many in our industry are focused on attracting new consumers to cannabis, we still have much to learn about the profiles, preferences, and spending habits of Heavy Users," said Disney. "We hope to use these new insights at Receptor Brands to build the foundation for products and campaigns for a broader range of patients and customers as daily consumption becomes increasingly commonplace."


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,788 adults, of whom 528 qualified as heavy users. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st March - 4th April 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

About Receptor Brands

Receptor Brands is a brand experience agency custom-made for cannabis. On a mission to transform the relationship between cannabis brands and their customers, this team of growth-minded marketing and innovation experts create experiences that exceed customer expectations. Based in Chicago, Receptor Brands provides end-to-end management consulting, product development, marketing, and advertising services.

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