America is the home of rock and roll music, apple pie, and — increasingly — cannabis. A growing center of global canna-tourism and culturally one of the most pro-cannabis nations in the world, 49% of American adults now admit to having used marijuana at some time in the past, which is an all-time record.

After all, why not? Recreational THC products are legal in nearly two dozen states, and states that don’t have any medical cannabis program whatsoever are now the outliers. Weed is officially mainstream in the USA, but it can take some digging to find out exactly which Americans are using cannabis and why.

In this guide, we’ll piece together some of the most recent data to answer critical questions like which cannabis products Americans are using, how much they’re paying for them, and whose lips are at the inhaling end of the joint. Read on to find out which US consumers are using cannabis and how to use this information to your advantage.

Marijuana is now mainstream

Cannabis — pejoratively known as “marijuana” — wasn’t a major component of American culture until the hippy movement of the late 1960s. Back then, only around 4% of US adults had used cannabis, which grew close to 30% by 1980.

The percentage of American adults who had tried THC largely held steady, however, until the mid-2010s when cannabis legalization laws started to take hold across the country. Usage spiked above 40% of US adults for the first time, and by 2020, more than 45% of Americans over 21 had gotten stoned at least once.

Recognizing THC as a potentially more beneficial alternative to alcohol, younger consumers have flocked to recreational cannabis in droves. With medical cannabis programs expanding nationwide, every demographic segment is exploring the potential benefits of weed in greater numbers than ever before.

American cities consume epic quantities of cannabis

Some cities worldwide — especially those in places like India and Pakistan where cannabis use has been common for millennia — have boasted huge degrees of cannabis consumption since records started being taken. It’s only recently, however, that American cities have jumped forward in the ranks to become the hottest cannabis epicenters on the face of the planet.

New York City, for instance, now consumes a jaw-dropping 77.44 metric tons of cannabis per year — and keep in mind that these statistics are from 2018. Cannabis use in NYC and other American cities (LA is #3 and Chicago is #8) has only gone up since then, entirely displacing global cannabis dynamics. New York alone consumes nearly double the amount of cannabis compared to Karachi, weed’s #2 city.

4/20 sales increase year after year

April 20th is an unofficial cannabis holiday that always sees a spike in weed sales. Analysts use 4/20 sales to judge the overall health of the American cannabis market, and recent 4/20 trends indicate that the US weed industry is swelling to record heights.

Falling on a different day of the week every year, some 4/20 dates are more predisposed to high sales numbers than others. In 2019, for instance, 4/20 was on Saturday compared to 2020’s Monday, but judging by the busiest day in each year’s 4/20 week, the holiday banked more than $16 million more in 2021 than it did in 2020.

In 2020, the busiest day in 4/20 week raked in $158.9 million. In 2021, however, daily sales had already eclipsed $175.6 million by April 12th — more than a week before 4/20 celebrations officially began.

The increased popularity of 4/20 year-over-year means more than just increased revenues. It also shows that cannabis is becoming a greater component of American culture, with ever-more US consumers partaking and celebrating the plant’s virtues.

America sold more weed than Starbucks coffee in 2021

Since the 1990s, Starbucks has symbolized America’s sickly sweet consumer lifestyle. The ease and convenience of the company’s corner coffee shop template (which quickly found itself on nearly every single corner in the USA) broadcasted American consumer habits to the world, and Starbucks rapidly became a global phenomenon.

US consumers have seemingly moved on from coffee, however, and are well on their way toward normalizing a new global trend — cannabis consumption. In 2021, American sales of cannabis eclipsed Starbucks’ North American sales for the first time ever. Cannabis raked in somewhere between $24.5 and $27 billion compared to Starbucks’ suddenly paltry $20.5 billion declared revenue.

This new information shows that cannabis use isn’t just popular, it’s mainstream. Thirty years ago, nobody would have believed people would line up around the block just for a cup of coffee. Starbucks changed all that, and cannabis is now just as surely transforming American culture’s impact on the world from the inside out.

Consumer cannabis habits are changing

What, exactly, is happening under the hood of American cannabis to inspire these rapid and monumental shifts in consumer dynamics? Let’s examine nine points from a recent New Frontier Data report on the cannabis industry to find the answers:

1. Flower no longer has a monopoly

“Do you smoke weed?” These four words have epitomized American stoner culture for decades. Now, though, not every cannabis consumer is smoking the plant anymore. More than half (57%) of American cannabis consumers now indicate they use both flower and non-flower products, marking the first time use of multiple product types has been in the majority.

2. The joint still reigns supreme, though

Nonetheless, rolling up some weed in a joint and smoking it is still the most popular way to use cannabis in the United States. Flower remains the most common type of THC product, and convenient pre-rolls are now widely available.

3. And, consumers still prefer flower

Even if using other product types is gradually catching on, flower sales still make up 44% of the cannabis market. With 83% of cannabis consumers indicating that they use flower at least sometimes and 60% reporting that flower is their favorite type of cannabis, it appears that cannabis buds aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

4. Only a quarter of cannabis users only smoke flower

The number of cannabis consumers who only use flower products is shrinking. Even if more than 80% admit to using flower sometimes, only 25% strictly stick to smoking buds. Americans who buy weed illegally are considerably more likely to only use flower.

5. Dosing varies

Women and older individuals are most likely to only smoke a few hits of weed at a time, making up 28% of total cannabis consumers. Weed users who smoke 4-5 hits at a time make up 21%, 17% indicate that they smoke around half a joint per session, 20% smoke a full joint each time, and 10% smoke 2 or more joints per session.

6. Eighth pricing also varies

When state-based recreational cannabis programs were first being rolled out, it was normal for cannabis to cost quite a bit more than it should. These days, however, the price to buy an eighth (3.5g) of weed has largely stabilized with 24% of eighths costing between $25 and $34 — what any stoner would call a fair price. With 16% of cannabis consumers still paying more than $55 per eighth, though, it’s clear that pricing still has a ways to go.

7. Consumers want to know about effects

It seems cannabis consumers have caught on regarding the potency mirage. A strain with 30% THC might offer effects that are worse than a strain with 15% THC depending on breeding and terpenes. Nowadays, 51% of cannabis consumers want to know about the effects of a cannabis product above all else with only 22% prioritizing its THC percentage.

8. Younger consumers love cartridges

The younger you are as a cannabis consumer, the more likely you are to prefer cartridges. That’s partially because carts are much harder to get on the illicit market while high-quality flower is still widely available and often cheaper. It’s also due to younger consumers being more technologically literate and willing to try new product types.

9. Older stoners love edibles

They don’t want to smoke, but they don’t want to vape, either — as expected, older cannabis users are the most likely to use edibles. At 16%, they’re also the least likely to buy vapes.

Key takeaways

Flower isn’t the only kind of cannabis in town, and consumers have caught wind. At the same time, they aren’t abandoning flower, which will likely be the cornerstone of cannabis commerce for years to come. American cannabis consumers simply want to broaden their horizons — and many of them now often have significant tolerances to combat, which can be bypassed to some extent by changing your administration method.

This diversification of product preferences among American cannabis users is likely to persist and intensify. As younger cannabis consumers age into the recreational market, demand for vapes will likely increase while edibles lose popularity. Flower, though, which remains popular amongst all cannabis consumer demographics, will continue to remain a safe bet as long as Americans want to get high.

The bottom line: Who smokes weed?

You now know why Americans smoke weed, what they smoke, and what it costs. Our original question, though, was who buys weed in America. The answer? According to Statista, 48% of US recreational cannabis consumers are Millennials.

Consumers in this generation grew up in a sweet spot in which cannabis was popular and largely accepted but remained illicit. There’s hardly a Millennial who didn’t smoke weed in high school, and now that cannabis is legal, they use it casually and regularly.

Gen Z consumers also show a tendency toward using cannabis products that isn’t shared by pre-Millennial generations, but they’re often too young to buy recreational cannabis yet. Expect Gen Z to take up a greater share of the cannabis market over the next five years, but Millennials will still likely represent the largest percentage of recreational THC users for the foreseeable future.