Anyone routinely told that cannabis use makes for an unmotivated, uneventful or unimpressive life now has the numbers to refute such myths. A recent study shows that across a wide array of indicators, cannabis consumers are doing better — socially, mentally and financially — than those who abstain.
The landmark study was conducted by BDS Analytics, whose Cannabis Customer Research Division is the first of its kind. In a release shared with Mic, they called the survey "the most comprehensive and detailed look at cannabis consumers ever conducted," with extensive data from the states of California and Colorado, both of which have voted to legalize the sale of recreational pot.
Participants were separated into three categories: "Consumers," who use cannabis; "Acceptors," who don't use it but are open to the idea; and "Rejecters," who won't consider trying the drug. In each category, it appeared that Consumers were getting the most out of life. Here's how it breaks down.
Cannabis users boast high achievement
Can a stoner get off the couch to pursue higher education and a challenging career? You bet. BDS found that in California, 20% of Consumers held a master's degree, while 13% of Acceptors and 12% of Rejectors could say the same. Consumers also had a significantly higher average household income: $93,800 compared to the mid-$70K range for the other two demographics.
In Colorado, meanwhile, 64% of Consumers held full-time jobs, with 51% of Acceptors and 54% of Rejectors enjoying similar employment.
Pot doesn't stop you from having kids
In California, cannabis consumers — contrary to the stereotype that casts them as irresponsible or lazy — were more likely to be parents: 64% had started a family, versus 60% of Acceptors and 55% of Rejecters. They were also far more likely to have children aged 10 or younger, at a rate of 37%, well above the 23% of Acceptors and 11% of Rejecters — just in case you were worried about dying alone, with only your loyal bong to mourn you.
Marijuana is linked to social activity and healthy habits
“Cannabis consumers are far removed from the caricatures historically used to describe them,” said Linda Gilbert, head of the consumer research division at BDS, in a press release. “In fact, positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socializing, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California.”
Some 36% of Colorado Consumers described themselves as "very social people," compared to 21% for Acceptors and 28% of Rejecters, while marijuana users in both Colorado and California report enjoying outdoor recreation at higher rates than non-users: 50% of Colorado Consumers versus 36% of Rejecters, and 57% of California Consumers as opposed to 26% of Rejecters.
Moreover, 50% of Colorado Consumers exercise at least once a week, and 25% go to a bar or club as often. Even when it comes to charity and altruism, the stoners are setting a higher bar: In California, 60% of Consumers agreed that they are "nuturing," and 38% volunteer their time to help others. For Rejecters, those figures are 41% and 25%, respectively.
Surprise, surprise: Smokers are happier
When BDS came right out and asked these three cohorts about their satisfaction with life in general, Consumers again had the edge. According to the survey, nearly five in 10 Colorado Consumers reported being more satisfied with life today than they were a year ago. Only four in 10 Acceptors or Rejecters could say the same — so cannabis certainly isn't killing our spirits.
What it all means
The caveat to all this is that smoking grass doesn't necessarily improve your life; the data simply suggests that consumers are, by several metrics, enjoying a better quality of living. They're more accomplished, wealthier and — perhaps most importantly — have a more favorable view of their current circumstance.
And these results are just the tip of the iceberg. BDS is planning an entire series of cannabis trend analyses, with research currently underway in Oregon and Washington, two other states with legal recreational marijuana on the books. If their findings continue in this vein, the idea of the apathetic, go-nowhere pothead is sure to fade ever faster from the national imagination.