Photo credit - Bloom Farms Instagram
A new poll by Yahoo and Marist College, which was recently released in April, found that cannabis has officially gone mainstream. Cannabis got favorable marks in this new survey; 67% of people surveyed perceived opioids to be riskier than cannabis, 76% of people indicated they believed marijuana to be less dangerous than tobacco and 70% thinking cannabis is less risky then alcohol. Also, 83% of people surveyed believed that cannabis should be medically legal nationwide.
55 million Americans use medical marijuana, which is not surprising considering the new trend towards acceptance. Recreational marijuana, however, got mixed reviews in the recent survey. Only 49% of people believed that recreational marijuana should be legalized, just 2% more than the amount of people who were opposed to it. That was in association with 4% of people who were not certain about whether they believe it should be recreationally legal or not. People who tried cannabis, however, were more accepting of recreational legalization with 70% of those being in favor, as compared to 26% of people who have never tried marijuana.
Cannabis, is also becoming more socially acceptable. 56% of people surveyed believe that cannabis consumption is socially acceptable, even though 51% of people do believe cannabis consumption is a health risk. 52% of consumers are millennials, showing a clear distinction between generations. Millennials, interestingly, were also the most conflicted generation about their cannabis use. 25% of millennials felt guilty about cannabis use, compared to just 17% of non-millennials.
Parents are also a growing group of cannabis consumers. 54% of adult cannabis consumers are parents, the majority with children under the age of 18. Nearly all parents surveyed, however, will not consume cannabis while in the company of their children. There is also a clear distinction between political parties when it comes to cannabis consumption. Only 14% of cannabis consumers are Republicans, showing the great majority to be Democrats or Independents.
What is clear from the survey is that medical marijuana consumption is considered more mainstream than recreational consumption. Most consumers who were surveyed consume cannabis for medical reasons, with only 16% saying they used cannabis “just for fun”. Far more consumers use cannabis to help with pain, to assist with relaxation, or to make them more comfortable in social situations.
The study by Yahoo and Marist is just one indicator that cannabis has gone mainstream. Congressmen agreed with the findings of the study and have recently started a Congressional Cannabis Caucus to approach the issue in the coming years. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a pro-marijuana congressman from Oregon, told reporters that, “Marijuana has gone mainstream” while discussing hopeful reforms at the federal level.
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The Cannabis Caucus, which Bluemenauer is a member of, launched in February with the goal of working towards reforms of the government approach to the cannabis industry. They have many goals, which include updating the tax code, reducing federal hurdles to the cannabis industry, and decrease the roadblocks for companies in the industry to access banks. The caucus is a bipartisan effort for lawmakers from states where cannabis is legal to educate other lawmakers on what the cannabis industry is like.
Republican congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, who is also a caucus member, said in a news release about the caucus that, "The federal government’s decades-long approach to marijuana is a colossal, cruel joke, and most Americans know it…Not only have incalculable amounts of taxpayers’ dollars been wasted, but countless lives have been unnecessarily disrupted and even ruined by misguided law enforcement." The caucus is a clear sign that cannabis is on the mind of many lawmakers and that the progression of the industry is particularly on the minds of congressmen who’s constituencies are in states where cannabis is legal.
The cannabis industry is also attracting more mainstream investors to its ranks. The industry was once seen as a grey area, but now, more investors, including tech companies and celebrities, are stepping into the ever expanding industry. In 2016, the cannabis industry, both recreational and medical, brought in $6.9 billion in sales, a 34% increase from the previous year. By 2020, cannabis sales are expected to reach up to $20 billion.
Some successful Silicon Valley executives have left the tech industry to break into the world of cannabis. Eric Eslao was a senior producer of iTunes marketing at Apple for six years before he left to start the upscale cannabis chocolate line Défoncé Chocolatier and he has continued to embrace the tech culture in his new venture.
Mark Williams, one of the main software developers for Mac OS, has broken into the world of vaporizers by creating one of the most tech-influenced, high end products on the market. The Firefly2 vaporizer has embraced the aesthetic and simplicity of Apple products and have incorporated those properties into its user friendly, tech forward design.
Maya of Whoopi & Maya's Om Edibles
Celebrities have also broken into the world of cannabis. Whoopi Goldberg, an outspoken cannabis advocate for her own health conditions, has created a specially curated line of cannabis products to help women with PMS related symptoms. The Whoopi & Maya product line, which is named after her and her business partner Maya Elisabeth, who is the founder of Om Edibles, includes dreamy products like a relaxing lavender bath soak, raw cacao medical marijuana, a dreamy body balm, and a specially curated tincture. The products have gained rave reviews for their high quality and women focused benefits.
Snoop Dog, the king of cannabis in pop culture, has also broken into the cannabis industry in the form of a venture capital investment firm that was founded in 2015. Casa Verde Capital, which is overseen by Snoop Dog and others, provides growth capital to cannabis start ups, with an emphasis on media, technology, remedies, and lab testing.
All of these factors show how cannabis has gone mainstream. From the average person to celebrities to congressmen, cannabis is becoming widely accepted with less stigma associated. Though it will continue to be a controversial product until it is made federally legal and declassified as a Schedule 1 drug, cannabis has forged its way into the culture and minds of Americans. The widespread acceptance of cannabis is a key factor in cementing its future as a viable medication.