Chart: Cannabis consumption preferences cross generations as millennials and baby boomers favor inhalable products

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For all the strife that seems to exist between millennials and baby boomers, when it comes to marijuana consumption, the two generations actually have much in common.

But key differences also exist, which affects how businesses will need to focus their messaging to reach these customers.

Both demographic cohorts identified inhalation as the most preferred method of consumption, according to a recent study from Verilife, a dispensary operator owned by Chicago-based multistate marijuana operator PharmaCann.

While the study didn’t identify specific reasons for this selection, several factors might play a role, including:

  • Familiarity: Inhaled forms, such as joints or pipes, historically have been the most identifiable way to consume cannabis.
  • Economics: Flower tends to be the least expensive form of marijuana product, likely driving up its popularity among consumers and accounting for the even higher popularity among younger consumers who might have less disposable income.
  • Accessibility: Every dispensary or retail cannabis store offers a selection of inhalable forms.

All three factors also contribute to less brand loyalty when it comes to flower purchases.

According to data from Seattle-based Headset, the top 10 brands in each of four states (California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington) surveyed accounted for less than half of all flower purchases in 2019.

Baby boomers and millennials not only prefer the same forms of consumption, but on average, they also both spend roughly the same amount each month on cannabis and have increased their consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both groups reported increasing their monthly spend on cannabis during the health crisis by an average of $27 per month – that’s on top of the $76 they typically have spent.

A critical difference between the two groups, however, is the reasons cited for consuming cannabis.

Baby boomers, by far, indicated they use marijuana for medical reasons only (50%), while nearly the same amount of millennials (49%) consume solely for recreational purposes.

More than 20% of each group noted consuming for both recreational and medical reasons.

Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier can be reached at