Do Consumers Care About “Environmentally Responsible” Cannabis? A Landmark Study Says a Definitive “Yes,” But What Does That Mean?

Jun 2 • Marketing Research, News • 2358 Views • No Comments on Do Consumers Care About “Environmentally Responsible” Cannabis? A Landmark Study Says a Definitive “Yes,” But What Does That Mean?

June 2, 2016 | By Claire Kaufmann

What’s behind the search for a “natural high?”

Earlier last week I received a working copy of a landmark study attempting to quantify the potential market for “socially responsible” and/or “sustainable” cannabis. The study uses the Portland metro area as a test case in methodology.

The study was done by Elizabeth Bennett, a well-known expert on fair trade and political consumerism.  Elizabeth Bennett is an Assistant Professor of International Affairs at Lewis & Clark College and a Research Associate at the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade (CFAT) at Colorado State University. Bennett holds a PhD in Political Science from Brown University and a MALD in political economy and development from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. She is the author, co­-author, and co­-editor of several books and articles, including The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life (2014) and The Handbook of Research on Fair Trade (2015). This project is part of a broader academic study of political consumerism in recreational activities.

In essence the study explains that “yes,” “environmentally responsible” cannabis is a purchase driver for many consumers but that both growers and consumers are yet to determine exactly what that means.

In fact, “81% of dispensaries report that consumers sometimes or frequently ask for environmentally responsible marijuana. And 86% of dispensaries are willing to sell it to them. But what “counts” as eco­pot varies greatly across dispensaries, and the standards are not always meaningful. It is disconcerting that half of the dispensaries gave us poor information about environmental issues in cannabis.” 

Just over half (51%) of dispensaries said that they would consider cannabis “green” just because they “trust” the grower or producer.  Another 20% thought the state pesiticde testing was enough to call it “green,” and only 18% said the certification mattered the most.

When asked why more “green” cannabis wasn’t being sold, nearly 40% of dispensaries said they expect demand to increase as the industry grows. Only 11% said consumers don’t care about the source of their products.

The report is the first of many that we will see in the coming years, attempting to better understand purchase drivers in this new and emerging industry. Truly fascinating!

Read the executive summary here:

Read the full report here:

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