How exactly have weed habits changed from the days of the Baby Boomer Generation, aka “Boomers,” to today’s Gen Z? That’s exactly the question that we’ll explore together in this piece.
The Boomers’ Weed Habits (1946-1964)
Unless you’re a Boomer, this is the generation of either your parents or grandparents, which may make it difficult to imagine your 70-something-year-old grandmother or aunt barefoot and lighting up a doobie at the first Woodstock in 1969 as Janis Joplin belted out from the stage.
However, back when your parents or grandparents were in their teens and 20s in 1970, this is when weed was classified as a Schedule 1 drug and was mainly illegally imported into the US. The majority of the weed that was available then was a mix of leaves, stems, flowers, and random bits of the plant. Very little of it was what you find when entering a well-lit, friendly neighborhood dispensary staffed with knowledgeable budtenders. In short, when Boomers were sparking up, they weren’t only most likely doing so either via a joint or bong but were usually smoking the entire plant, as opposed to just the buds, which means they were getting a much lower THC content. Pot brownies were also a thing in the late 60s and 70s, but their potency and success were to varying degrees due to the aforementioned reasons.
These days, Boomers are generally more likely to practice their weed habits for medical purposes.
Gen X’s Weed Habits (1965-1979)
Gen Xers grew up when ultra-conservatives were having their heyday with the War on Drugs and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. As such, you might think that Gen X ended up taking on these incredibly archaic views. However, as every good generation does, Gen X was about bucking the establishment, as reflected even by its embrace of punk and grunge.
Gen X has generally held positive views about marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. A fact that’s also supported by the reality that many of today’s lawmakers and cannabis activists who have brought about cannabis reforms are members of Gen X and their successors, the Millennials.
In fact, according to Headset, which is a leading marijuana data company, Gen X is considered one of the fastest-growing consumer demographics in the legalized marijuana market, having been studied to comprise more than 33% of total cannabis sales over the past few years! While most of Gen X were using joints, pipes, bongs, and baking their own edibles when they were coming of age in the early 90s, unlike their parents’ generation, the smoking shake wasn’t the only viable option as quality strains like Sour Diesel, White Widow, and AK47 were around.
These days, Gen X’s weed habits tend to favor flowers and pre-rolls the most, followed by vape pens, concentrates, and edibles. However, the product areas that members of Gen X appear to be less inclined to purchase from a dispensary are capsules, beverages, topicals, and tinctures.
Millennials’ Weed Habits (1980-1996)
Millennials are currently the generation that’s fueling the cannabis economy; though if current trends with Gen Z continue, that will likely change in the next decade or so.
Interestingly, Millennials’ weed habits do actually share something in common with Boomers in that both of these generations seem to prefer inhalable products, as reported by the Marijuana Business Daily (MBD) in December of 2021. Another oddly similar statistic that MBD shared is that marijuana usage amongst Boomers is at 50% and Millennials at 49%, but for very opposite reasons. Boomers are using marijuana for medical purposes, and Millennials for purely recreational reasons. (This doesn’t include the additional 20+% who say they use it for both purposes.)
According to Headset, Millennials’ weed habits prefer concentrates, vapes, and pre-rolls–demonstrating a preference for potency and convenience. They are less likely to buy edibles and aren’t that inclined to purchase health and wellness products like topicals, creams, etc.
It goes without saying that Millennials, along with their predecessors Gen X, have been at the forefront of marijuana reform and that these two, especially Millennials as the larger demographic, are why things have progressed so much in the U.S. when it comes to progressive medical and recreational cannabis laws being passed.
Gen Z’s Weed Habits (1997-2012)
Note: when discussing Gen Z, we are only including its members who are old enough to legally purchase cannabis from a dispensary.
Gen Z is now the most racially and ethnically diverse generation. They’re also on their way to surpassing Millennials as weed consumers. With only a fraction of Gen Z currently being old enough to legally purchase weed, they’ve already passed the Boomers in usage, and it’s been projected that if these trends continue they will be beating out Millennials in the next decade or so.
A study conducted by Brightfield in 2021 showed that 63% of Gen Z-ers who are 21 and older use cannabis over alcohol, with 19% saying they rarely if ever drink. Brightfield also found that Gen Zers are the most likely to use marijuana while playing video games, though they also mentioned that this trend might be more about having more free time than someone in their late 30s or 40s might have. Regardless, gaming and cannabis definitely go hand in hand for Gen Z.
Other trends that Headset has noted with Gen Z’s weed habits are that they more than previous generations prefer the convenience of pre-rolls and that they also purchase the most concentrates. Gen Z seems less inclined to buy non-inhalables, and isn’t so much about brand loyalty with vape pens instead preferring to experiment with new products. Not surprisingly, Gen Z isn’t as drawn to CBD products, which makes sense as the aches and pains of aging aren’t an issue in one’s early 20s.
Headset also found that year-over-year sales for Gen Z female-identified folk grew the fastest at 151% in 2020. Another wonderful way of putting this, and concluding this article is to say: the future of weed is most definitely female thanks to Gen Z.
Written By Kim Thompson
Along with being an award-winning creative and literary writer, Kim works as a freelance copywriter, editor, and proofreader both domestically and internationally.
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