Gen Z Is the First Generation to Prefer Vaping Weed Over Smoking It
Gen Z and Millennials now account for the vast majority of all legal cannabis sales in the US and Canada.
Published on April 21, 2023

Millennials and Zoomers buy way more legal weed than any other demographic, according to a new industry report by data analytics firm Headset

In fact, these two generations now account for a whopping 72% of all the legal cannabis sales in Canada that Headset tracks. That percentage is slightly lower in the US, but still adds up to a total of 63% of all legal weed sales. The difference between these two countries could be partially explained by the fact that the US limits all legal weed sales to adults aged 21 and up, but many Canadian provinces allow 18- or 19-year-olds to buy weed. 

Generation Z includes people born between 1997 and 2012, so a good portion of this group is still too young to buy weed legally. More and more Zoomers hit the legal buying age every year, though, which explains why their overall market share is growing so quickly. In the US, Gen Z stoners bought 11% more legal weed than they did last year, and Canadian sales to that age group grew by 6% year-over-year. Before this group came of age, adults over the age of 40 accounted for over 40% of weed sales.

But although Zoomers are buying more weed than their older peers, they're not necessarily spending more money. In the first two months of this year, Boomer women spent an average of $64.84 per transaction, about 22% higher than Gen Z women did. And in pretty much every category, older people were more likely to spend more money on weed than younger generations. Headset also found that men are also more likely to purchase more expensive cannabis products than women.

Canadian women are also apparently more into legal weed than their American counterparts. Women account for nearly 38% of all Canadian legal cannabis sales, but only about 34% of the US market. Overall market share growth is also greater for Canadian women, increasing by 1.2% year-over-year, compared to 0.3% for American women. Headset also reports that men tend to prefer inhalable products like flower and concentrates, while women prefer wellness products like tinctures, topicals, and capsules.

Gen Z is also the first generation to buck one of the cannabis industry's most popular sales trends. Throughout over a decade of legal adult-use and medical marijuana sales, dried flower has remained the most popular sales category, regardless of buyers’ age or gender. But according to Headset, Gen Z shoppers actually prefer vaping to blazing. Vape pens now account for over a third of all legal weed products bought by Gen Z shoppers, a larger percentage than flower, edibles, or other products.

That trend probably reflects Gen Z's overall disdain of smoking. Cigarette smoking has fallen seriously out of favor among teens, while the popularity of nicotine vaping has grown. Back in 2017, more than twice as many American teens also said that they preferred weed to cigarettes. Tobacco use has actually been dropping significantly in every age group, though. According to another recent poll, 16% of Americans now own up to using cannabis, compared to 11% that smoke cigarettes.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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