Cannabis Consumption “Rapidly Evolving” According to New Research

A new study looking at cannabis use in the United States and Canada finds that consumption habits are evolving away from dried cannabis flower to other forms of cannabis like extracts, edibles and vape products. 

The study, titled Trends in the use of cannabis products in Canada and the USA, 2018 – 2020: Findings from the International Cannabis Policy Study [PDF] was lead by researchers at Canada’s University of Waterloo and looked at thousands of responses to the International Cannabis Policy Study online survey.

Survey responses from 2018 through to 2020 were the basis for this study. 

Overall usage numbers.

Overall usage of cannabis products in all categories (flower, vape, edibles, oils, drinks, hash/keif, tinctures and topical ointments) was up over the three year timespan of this study. 

While overall cannabis consumption is up, the use of dried flower is down and consumption of edible cannabis products has filled that gap.

Dried cannabis flower remains the most popular form of cannabis consumption with an average of 73% of respondents reporting it as their most commonly used product. This is a decrease in usage of 8% between 2018 and 2020. 

Here’s a breakdown for the Canadian data from 13,401 survey respondents:

Dried cannabis flower usage: 2018 (81%) to 2020 (73%)

Cannabis oil (drops or capsules): 2018 (21%) to 2020 (34%)

Cannabis oil (vaped): 2018 (21%) to 2020 (26%)

Edibles (foods): 2018 (38%) to 2020 (53%)

Drinks: 2018 (8%) to 2020 (15%)

Hash or kief: 2018 (25%) to 2020 (24%)

Tinctures: 2018 (7%) to 2020 (14%)

Topical cannabis ointments: 2018 (9%) to 2020 (16%)

cannabis consumption 2020 canada

While the US results differ slightly, the trends are in the same direction with less people using dried cannabis flower (down 6% in the US) and more people consuming edible products (up 14% in the US) and cannabis oil (up 12%).

cannabis consumption 2020 united states

Differences in cannabis usage by age and gender

Overall, males reported more regular cannabis usage than women for most products: hash, capsules, vape oils, tinctures and dried flower. Out of all the categories reported it was only topicals (i.e. THC topical muscle rub) where women reported a higher consumption rate then men. 

Cannabis consumption was highest amongst those respondents between the ages of 21 and 35 years old. After dried cannabis flower, vape oils had the highest level of consumption in this age group. 

Joints are getting bigger.

While overall consumption of dried cannabis flower may be trending down, the size of cannabis “joints” is increasing. The research found that the average joint size has increased from 0.2 grams per joint in 2018 to 1.0 gram per joint in 2020.

The researchers conclude that, “[t]he findings highlight the rapidly evolving nature of the cannabis product market, including notable shifts in the types of cannabis products used by consumers.”

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