Why The World Loves The Herb | A Nielsen Survey Review By Professor Harvest

why people consume cannabis

So I have some good news, and some, well, less good news. The good news is that our planet is showing massively increased interest in our favourite plant. The bad news is, I didn’t get you the terpene article I promised you last time around… Wait, don’t go – I can explain everything!

You see, the thing is, as I was trying to make my way back from being side-tracked on my quest for terpene knowledge, I expertly managed to get side-tracked again… Trust your Professor for being a scatterbrain, dear readers! This time, I chanced upon a pretty interesting piece of marketing research. I’ll admit right away that it’s not my field of expertise, but it is science nonetheless, so let’s have a quick look at what the world’s leading marketing experts can teach us about our favourite topic. You guessed it, folks, the study focussed on marijuana and the reasons why people claim to like, buy, and use it.

Not just any study

What I’m talking about here is not just any college student survey either. This is a genuine study conducted by Nielsen, one of the world’s leading market research agencies. When these people talk, CEOs tend to listen – because the Nielsen guys ‘n’ gals usually talk business.

Non-trending topic

The study’s summary opens by admitting full-out that consumer cannabis is here to stay. Now that more and more countries are legalising medical and recreational THC and CBD-rich products, with a specific focus on the USA, hemp is no longer a trending topic or a passing craze. The very fact that Nielsen is publishing this survey pretty much says it all. So, the marketing bigshots decided to survey a large sample of US citizens aged 21 or over, and these are some of their most interesting conclusions:

Medical marijuana – it’s a Big Hit

Yes, pun intended. The survey found that of all the people interviewed, 34% showed interest in using legal cannabis. Of course, that leaves about two-thirds not interested, but it’s part of a major shift in public opinion that’s expected to continue. Intriguingly, the huge majority of people said they’d use legalised cannabis products for medical reasons rather than for recreation; either to treat existing ailments or for preventive reasons. A whopping 85% of pro-marijuana people said they’d like to use it against chronic pain, while 81% would use it for mental issues and 77% would use it to help them sleep. Prevention of diseases scored pretty well too at 60%, while 58% said they’d use cannabis to improve their overall physical health.

Big Canna or Big Pharma?

These figures are likely to spark the interest of the big pharmaceuticals out there. Right now, the symptoms and ailments mentioned in the survey are big business for synthetic drug manufacturers. If cannabis keeps on getting more legal in more countries, people may well turn to marijuana-based medicine instead, or so the survey suggests. Personally, I think many people would benefit from non-synthetic medicine and natural remedies such as cannabis, but that’s just my opinion, you know. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this huge industry reacts.

Recreational highs

Of course, people admitted they’d use legal marijuana for purely recreational purposes too. At 74%, ‘relaxation’ is a bit of a borderline case between medical and nonmedical here. Then again, one could argue that any kind of recreation and relaxation has medical benefits for people. At 48%, ‘having a good time with family and friends’ is the first purely recreational reason found in the survey. This could indicate that just under half of all pro-cannabis US citizens would try to get high just for fun rather than for medical reasons. Intriguing stuff, don’t you agree?

The proper perspective

Before we start jumping to conclusions, my dear fellow science fans, let’s remind ourselves to view these figures in the right perspective. These types of surveys always have a risk of what we call social desirability bias. This happens when people don’t say what they really think, but instead say what they think is the acceptable or socially desirable answer. We all know there’s still a lot of stigma and negative perception surrounding cannabis, so this is bound to affect the outcomes of the study. On top of that, the study focussed on people living in the USA (a pretty specific part of the global population by itself), and then only in states where cannabis has been legalised in some way.  This is bound to have implications for how we can interpret the outcome. We are science-minded and nuanced people after all, so let’s be a bit cautious here, shall we?

Concluding thoughts

So with these notes on perspective out of the way, let’s try to draw some conclusions. I think the most important one is that global attention for marijuana and its many benefits is definitely on the rise. Apart from that, it’s fascinating to see how medical reasons seem to dominate the positive opinions many people have about our much-loved plant. Of course, more research is still needed before we can start making bold statements, but surveys by big cheese authorities such as Nielsen surely help shift opinions worldwide. I think it’s safe to say that right now, well-meaning little potheads such as your Professor seem to be on the right side of history for a change.

That’s a nice thought to take into the week if you ask me. Again, my apologies for not saying anything useful about terpenes, but there’s always next week, right? For now, I think I’ll just join the global trend and start looking for some legal marijuana at my local dispensary – for strictly medical reasons, of course…

Yours sincerely,

Professor Harvest