The generational divide in cannabis: a controversy



Weed is now legal in almost every other state in the U.S. Yet somehow, we are still struggling with an ideological gap between generations on the subject.

This gap is closing, though, and the cannabis industry is rapidly growing. It is actually one of the fastest growing markets out there, and is estimated to be worth a whopping $70 billion by 2028.

According to the New Frontier Data’s Cannabis Consumers Survey, around 55 million Americans smoke weed regularly and support its legalization. According to the Gallup poll performed in October 2019, 66% of Americans think cannabis should be legalized.

This is truly wild considering that the same poll was performed in 1969 and, back then, only 12% of Americans supported legalization of cannabis. So, we have come a long way since this issue first started in our nation.

It’s important to remember when talking about these subjects that we still have an uphill battle to face against federal regulation, which is the number one argument used against weed. However, not long ago, the FDA released a statement recognizing that cannabis does have the potential to be of great medical value.

So, we might not be as far off as we think from federal regulation approving nationwide use of cannabis. It is legal in upwards of 20 states, after all.

And while the progress we have achieved is amazing, there are still those out there that are completely opposed to the idea of cannabis being legal. Baby boomers and millennials, historically, agree on nothing.

And breaching the gap between generations on this particular subject has been the cause of tons of debate. But the funny thing is that they don’t disagree with what you might think.

You see, nowadays, boomers actually smoke more weed than millennials. What they don’t agree on is why you should smoke, when and where.

In this article, we will take you through both perspectives to get a better understanding of how we can breach the gap between generations. I mean, who knows, we might be looking at a future where we all light up a joint together.

Table of Contents

The generations

We can’t talk about the generational divide when it comes to weed without first talking about each specific generation first.

So without further ado, we will break down what we mean by baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z. And what their individual relationship with cannabis is like.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

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Baby Boomers are the generation born in the years 1946 through 1964. So, anyone that is in their mid 50s to early 70s. They make up 22% of the U.S. population.

This generation witnessed the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the moon landing. making them witnesses to a society that shifted from conservative to liberal.

They are also the fastest-growing cannabis consumers in the nation. There was actually a 75% increase in the number of baby boomers that consumed cannabis from 2015 to 2018 alone.

In fact, a whopping 91% of baby boomers believe that cannabis is healthier than alcohol. They are also likely to share that cannabis is positive on social media. So they may not be as against weed as you might have thought.

They tend to consume it from dispensaries, though they do have a major online presence. If you own a dispensary, make sure to keep this in mind when advertising for your cannabis business.

Generation X (1965-1980)


When referring to Gen X, we mean the people that were born between the years of 1965 and 1980. otherwise known as the Y2K generation.

Those in Gen X are normally in charge of caring for others. Either aging parents or small children. They are also generally worried about their health more than any other generation. Which is one of the reasons that Gen X is surprisingly in favor of medical marijuana.

Studies showed that 93% of Gen Xers were actually in favor of marijuana as a substance that can have many health benefits for humans.

Although this is typically the generation that is more divided on cannabis use for recreational purposes.They generally feel that consuming weed makes you less productive.

Millennials (1981–1996)

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Millennials are people who were born from 1981 to 1996. So, people in their 30s and upper-mid 20s. They are also known as the “trophy generation.”

They went through 9/11, the Great Recession, and the rise of social media platforms. This makes them one of the largest social media marketing demographics out there.

They are also very in favor of cannabis. Studies actually say that 91% of millennials agree that cannabis should be legal.

They mainly use cannabis to treat stress, anxiety, and for general mental wellness. This isn’t a surprise considering the high-stress, low-salary jobs most millennials have.

Generation Z (1997-2010)


Gen Z is the youngest generation. They are the people born from 1997 to 2010, meaning that they are the pre-teens, teenagers, and 20-year-olds of the world.

Of course, given their age, it comes as no surprise that Gen Z is mostly supportive of cannabis consumption. They did mainly grow up in a world where weed was more acceptable than all previous generations.

Studies show that 89% of Gen Z say that cannabis is their favorite way to relax. And they also tend to use it more in social situations or gatherings.

Another curious fact is that Gen Z tends to buy by pre-roll more than any other form of cannabis consumption. I mean, really, what is better than a pre-roll?

They also prefer THC to CBD, meaning that they use cannabis for energy-inducing and psychoactive effects rather than just mild CBD relaxation.

So, now that we broke down all of the generations and their general relationship to cannabis, we’ll dive into the generational divide about cannabis. So if you want to read more about the generational divide on weed, keep reading this article.

The generational divide in Cannabis

So, as we were saying before, the generational divide is no longer about whether we should smoke weed or not. Thanks to scientific research and new technology, we found out some time ago that cannabis is not only harmless, it also has a ton of medical benefits.

The main controversy around cannabis nowadays is actually the reason for consuming weed. It will come as no surprise to anyone that millennials use it mainly for recreational purposes, while baby boomers use it mainly for medical purposes. As we can see in the charts below,


Although the reasons may vary, what doesn’t vary is how much money generations are spending on weed. Both spend just under $80 a month on cannabis. This includes paraphernalia like pipes, vapes, or bongs.

However, just because they are spending about the same amount of money on cannabis, funnily enough, they don’t consume the same amount either. And the frequency with which each generation smokes also differs widely.

Statistics show that almost 25% of millennials smoke cannabis daily, compared to 12% of boomers who consume it on a regular basis.

Another curious fact is that boomers enjoy a great Wake and Bake moment more than millennials do. Although this could also be because of work schedules and duties that most people have to carry out through the day.


As for the method in which each generation chooses to consume weed, they also agree that smoking it is the most effective way. People in general are afraid of edibles, and there is a reason. They can be harder to control.


They also agree on something that we think all weed fanatics agree with, and that is that there is nothing better than the OG joint. Although some people also expressed that they prefer pipes, bongs, or blunts,

As for concentrates, the polls revealed that millennials were more in touch with dabbing. This isn’t surprising either, given that it is relatively new tech.

When it comes to who they smoke with, both generations enjoy lighting up with friends. They also use cannabis to relax before social situations.

28% of millennials and 26% of boomers actually said that they enjoy lighting up before work. And though roughly 30% of the cannabis smoking population doesn’t seem like a lot, we are talking about 16.5 million people.

Another thing that both generations agree on is that marijuana has medical benefits. 68% of millennials and 61% of boomers said that they would actually prefer to be treated with cannabis than take prescription drugs.

Surprisingly, there is a wide range of opinion when it comes to how comfortable they feel sharing their cannabis use with their medical professional. The vast majority of boomers said they have no problem with discussing weed with their doctor, while less than half of millennials said they would be comfortable sharing that information.

Another really important matter to touch on is the free use of cannabis on the streets and the cannabis shops that have been popping up throughout the nation. While the majority of people support its legalization, there is still a vast number of people, especially in older generations, that don’t agree with how accessible and public weed consumption has become.

That is why it is so important for cannabis retail shops and customers to be a positive influence and force in their neighborhoods. Although they have increased in popularity over the last few years,

It is very clear from the data that the generational divide on cannabis is closing. And that we might be living in a weed-friendly nation sooner than you think.

We do have a long way to go, though. If you struggle with getting your parents on board with your weed consumption, inform them about cannabis. Most people that are against it just have a lack of information about what cannabis can do for you and your body.

New Frontier Data


Education on cannabis use and its benefits has done wonders in breaching the generational gap that once divided this nation on cannabis use. This is mainly thanks to the research that has been done on cannabis and the medical benefits found in this flower.

Whatever the reason, we may be looking at a future where marijuana is legal nationwide and the numbers of opposers will drastically decrease. However, it is always interesting to see where each generation stands on the subject.

This could help us be respectful of others’ positions on the subject and live in a more peaceful society where everyone is free to do as they wish. We also saw that there are much more similarities in opinion than we might think.

If you enjoyed this article and want to share it with your friends, feel free to send it to them. Do you have opinions about the generational divide? Comment in the section below and we will be happy to listen to your opinion.