Nearly half of cannabis consumers get high on their lonesome, according to a new study shared exclusively with The Daily Beast.
Written for the Daily Beast:
By Ricardo Baca | April 20, 2017
In modern America, the act of drinking alcohol alone carries a worrisome stigma.
Sure, humor mag Modern Drunkard celebrates the act in a Bacchus-worshipping essay titled The Zen of Drinking Alone. But the search results that follow paint a different picture entirely, with HuffPo asking Is Drinking Alone an Early Warning Sign? and the Wall Street Journal ruminating on Drinking Alone: A Bad Idea or a Toast to Oneself?
But does alcohol’s stigma extend to other recreationally available substances? For example, is getting stoned by yourself the same as getting drunk on your lonesome?
That last statistic comes from a new quantitative trend-tracking study shared exclusively with The Daily Beast. Among people who have consumed cannabis in the last six months, 48 percent of Californians and 42 percent of Coloradans get high on their lonesome, according to the study conducted by BDS Analytics.
“I was startled by that,” said Linda Gilbert, a matter-of-fact 30-year veteran of Fortune 500 consumer research who now works with BDS Analytics, a business that collects, tracks and studies point-of-sale data among cannabis companies. “I thought cannabis was much more of a social drug.”
Startling, indeed. In my own experience, I prefer to get high among others. I appreciate how a solid microdose of psychoactive cannabinoid THC alters the experience of socializing just a smidge—my headspace, (sometimes) my friends’ point of view and the social construct as a whole. Cannabis often takes conversations and nights out in a different and totally unexpected direction, and it’s somewhat rare that I end up getting stoned on my own.
Gilbert’s employment at a marijuana-centered business also speaks volumes. Her research has helped launch products including Gatorade, Viagra and Frito Lay Naturals, and her list of previous clients reads like a shopping list of America’s most successful brands: Campbell’s, Pfizer, Pepsi, Centrum, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Unilever and even retailers such as Walmart, GNC and Whole Foods.
Now Gilbert is crunching data on Cheeba Chews, which is the most recognizable cannabis brand in California and Colorado, according her latest quantitative research, which surveyed 600 individuals in each state, California and Colorado, and has a margin of error at plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. Gilbert said BDS will conduct the same survey in Washington state and Oregon next.
“This is a unique study in that it’s the first that I know of that is scientifically rigorous enough so that it is projectable to the state population at a 95 percent confidence level,” Gilbert said. “The study is representative demographically of each state, matching to seven different census demographics—including age, income, gender, education, region of state, presence of children in the household, etc. We’ve seen other surveys where they interview people who shop at a certain dispensary or belong to a loyalty program, but those are not representative of the state population.
“Studies like this are important, because now we’re learning that cannabis is a part of people’s routines and lifestyles. It’s not just a party drug. We heard from people, and we see this in the data, that it’s very much a part of a lifestyle.”
The cannabis lifestyle, a.k.a. our evolving relationship with this plant-based substance, includes our consumption patterns. Perhaps you prefer to put flame to flower alone while I prefer edibles in the company of others. But when I predicted a shift in the getting-high-alone stats earlier, it’s because everything is about to change in American and Canadian cannabis.