U.S.: Stereotype of College-Educated Pot Smoker Is Wrong


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When marijuana's popularity exploded on the American cultural scene in the 1970s, college students figured prominently among the early adopters. Conservatives even imagined institutions of higher learning as centers of subversion from which the cannabis culture reached out its tendrils into the suburbs.

But in more recent years, the pot market has become more economically downscale, according to the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports Keith Humphreys at The Washington Post. "Most of the marijuana market is more Wal-Mart than Whole Foods," said Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jonathan Caulkins, author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs To Know.

The data show that "college grads account for only about one-in-six days of use," the measurement used for national marijuana use. The remaining five sixths of today's cannabis market comprises, from largest to smallest share, people who attended some college (more than 90 percent of whom are no longer enrolled), high school dropouts, and teenagers.

All these groups tend to have modest incomes, which Caulkins said means that "they are likely to be price-sensitive and drawn to less costly brands."

Criminal punishments connected to marijuana fall much more heavily on lower income groups, making it harder for college-educated public policymakers and advocates to understand just how cannabis policy can impact the typical user.

Caulkins predicts that rising cannabis entrepreneurs will come to pursue potential fortunes at the bottom of the pyramid. He thinks "this will lead them to promote value-priced brands, not just high-end artisanal versions."

Meanwhile, one has to wonder if the lawmakers who are writing the rules which make it prohibitively expensive for anyone except people who are already wealthy to enter the nascent marijuana business have any understanding of the economic reality facing the majority of cannabis users.

Graphic: Fiesta Frog