With a patchwork system for cannabis legalization state by state, at SICPA North America, a leading provider of regulatory compliance solutions, we were curious about what expectations consumers have about safety assurances and labeling information on the products they may consume. We thought if there’s a lack of confidence and confusion, it’s helpful for operators and regulators to know how consumers feel so they can take steps to enhance their procedures and improve consumer confidence.
Here’s what we found. Our nationwide study, commissioned by SICPA and conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,056 U.S. adults, found overwhelming support among cannabis users for more in-depth information about the products they may use. Key findings include:
- Nearly three in five cannabis users (58%) say they don’t know how to determine which cannabis products are worth consuming and which are not, likely given the myriad of product options in the marketplace.
- More than four in five cannabis users, or 83%, support requiring cannabis retailers to provide verified certificates to consumers to validate that their products have been legitimately tested for safety and potency.
- Four in five cannabis users (80%) say it is important to them to have a way to verify the safety of a cannabis product before using it.
- Almost four in five cannabis users (78%) say it would be important to them to be able to validate whether a cannabis product has ever been recalled prior to making a purchase.
- 63 percent of cannabis users support buying cannabis products from groups who have been historically disadvantaged, such as people of color, women, veterans or small businesses, over buying from groups who have not.
- More than three in four cannabis users would rather buy cannabis products that are developed with organic principles, over ones that are not.
Our poll also measured cannabis use among Americans, finding that 50 percent of Americans have used cannabis products at some point in time, with more than 1 in 3 (36%) stating they’ve used cannabis products in the past 12 months, and 13 percent saying they consumed cannabis products for the first time in the past 12 months. The latter number surprised me; that more than 1 in 10 Americans consumed cannabis products for the first time within the last year represents a significant uptick in usage.
Our first SICPA-The Harris Poll survey on cannabis labeling, released last fall, revealed broad support among Americans for securely labeling cannabis products to assure they have been legitimately sourced and appropriately tested.
We were surprised to see that top of mind for Americans was ensuring the safety of cannabis products, with a majority of Americans (83%) of the opinion that in states where cannabis is legal, licensed cannabis producers should be required to use secure labels that can’t be counterfeited on cannabis products to ensure potency and consumer safety. Other findings included:
- 4 in 5 Americans voiced their support for a program that would make it easier to detect legal vs. illegal cannabis products.
- 2 in 3 Americans said if they were to purchase cannabis, they would pay more for cannabis products if they had a secure label that designated them as being from a licensed provider that adheres to safety and legal standards.
The transition from cannabis being illegal to legal in many U.S. states brings with it the opportunity for illicit operators to capitalize on the demand without following regulatory guidelines designed to ensure public health and safety. Secure labels ensure confidence at the point of consumption where the health and safety risks of unregulated, illicit product are highest.
And state regulators need to be better armed with efficient and effective ways to manage the rapidly growing industry and ensure patients and consumers access legitimately sourced and appropriately tested products. We were fascinated that a broad appetite exists among Americans for a more tightly regulated cannabis market and they are willing to pay extra for that assurance. We look forward to sharing findings from our next poll in June!