By Arundati Dandapani
Millennials might be the top consumers of cannabis in Canada, but their older age cohorts the zoomers lead the way in consuming cannabis for health and wellness benefits. Today there are approximately 16.2 million zoomers or adults aged 45 years and older in Canada, comprising well over half (56%) of the Canadian population. Zoomers, representing 60% of all consumer spending and 70% of the wealth, also constitute 42% of the cannabis consuming market (legal and illegal), making them worth just under $3 billion in cannabis purchases according to Vividata’s 2019 Cannabis National Consumer Study.
This mature age group, however, reported a small increase in social disapproval of cannabis (by 5 percentage points) since the legalization of cannabis in Canada viz-a-vis their social acceptability of cannabis, which remained the same.
Of the zoomer cannabis consumers in Canada, close to half report using it for medical treatment, indicating an equal opportunity for recreational use among this cohort. Moreover, the criterion of “quality” cannabis in selecting a product is higher among zoomer medical users than zoomer recreational users. Zoomers are also more likely than other age groups to report health and wellness benefits to using cannabis as an alternate form of medicine.
Unsurprisingly then, well over half (54%) of all users of concentrates and 63% of all users of topicals in Canada are zoomers. In fact, a whopping 82% of those who use cannabis for physical symptoms (like pain management) are zoomers and nearly three-quarters (71%) of zoomers agree about the health and wellness benefits of cannabis.
Then what’s stopping this middle aged and older demographic from being active advocates of cannabis use? Their major barrier to consuming cannabis is fear, stigma and apprehension, owing to the lack of consumer education available to zoomers. Just under half (44%) of zoomers don’t know the difference between THC and CBD, the two principal cannabinoids in cannabis. Moreover, 85% of zoomers believe that it is important for cannabis brands to educate on the effects and use of their products. Barriers to use range from the lack of a medical referral, to worries about the unwanted “high”, confusion around what’s legal, and fear of addiction. Dosing, consistency and potency thus remain concerns among zoomers as well.