Study: Colorado Cannabis Users Kick Stereotypes Out The Window

Since the dawn of prohibition on cannabis, there have been countless negative stereotypes cast on those who use it. In the 1940s, during the rise of Reefer Madness, it was believed that smoking marijuana would make you violent — of course this was just propaganda to turn U.S. citizens against Mexican immigrants who often brought marijuana over the borders.

Later in the Nixon era, we saw the start of the War on Drugs and the introduction of the Controlled Substances Act along with the typical stereotypes cannabis users are still subject to today. Things like all cannabis users are hippies, flaky, unreliable, lazy, and unsuccessful in life are things you were surely warned about in your elementary and middle school D.A.R.E. classes.

However, a new study conducted by BDS Analytics suggests that the truth is quite the opposite of what prohibitionists would have us believe. This study, being called “the most comprehensive and detailed look at cannabis consumers ever conducted,” takes a look at adults 21 and older in both Colorado and California where cannabis is legal for recreational use.

Colorado and California Prove Marijuana Users Are Successful

Breaking the typical stoner stereotypes is something that many cannabis industry business owners and entrepreneurs aim for, and this study suggests that stoners may actually be more successful than non-users. The study broke respondents up into three different groups – consumers or people who use marijuana regularly, acceptors or people who don’t use cannabis but might consider it, and rejectors or people who don’t use marijuana and would not consider it.

Denver Cannabis Job Fair Applicant

The study found that out of those surveyed in Colorado, 64 percent of those who use cannabis have a full-time job, compared to only 51 percent of acceptors and 54 percent of rejectors. To further prove the point that cannabis users may actually be more successful than non-users, they found that California consumers made an average of $93,800 annually, compared to an average $72,800 for acceptors and $75,900 annually for rejectors.

It’s not only in jobs that cannabis users were found to be more successful than non-users. The study also looked at those in California who hold master’s degrees and found that once again, consumers had the highest average of them all with 20 percent holding a master’s degree. In comparison only 13 percent of acceptors and 12 percent of rejectors held a master’s degree.

Cannabis Users Are Happier With Life Than Non-Users

The study also found that those who were considered consumers were more satisfied with life than they were a year ago. This was around five in 10 people for consumers compared to around four in 10 people for among both acceptors and rejectors. While there isn’t quite as great of a difference here as there was in career success, it is still a marked difference.

“Cannabis consumers are far removed from the caricatures historically used to describe them,” said Linda Gilbert, head of the consumer research division at BDS Analytics. “In fact, positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socializing, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California.”

Three young men sharing a joint at a smoke-in.

Other areas of life that the study took a look at was parents raising families, finding enjoyment in outdoor recreational activities, and volunteering. In each of these categories, just like the ones before, consumers had the highest averages when it came to having children, considering themselves to be a creative or social individual and enjoying the outdoors.

While this study only takes a sampling of people from two states where cannabis is legal, it still provides enough data to start breaking down those common stereotypes. It’s also an ongoing study, so chances are, in the coming years, as more and more states lean towards ending prohibition and legalizing the plant, we will see more studies disproving prohibitionists’ claims.

[Featured Image by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]