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US Cannabis Trends: The ‘Munchies’ Are Driving Significant Changes in the Food and Beverage Markets

US Cannabis Trends: The ‘Munchies’ Are Driving Significant Changes in the Food and Beverage Markets

Millennials and Gen Z’s are driving the cannabis markets in legal jurisdictions. But they’re not just getting high, they’re getting hungry as well and ‘convenience’ food outlets are reaping the benefits.

Javier Hasse, Benzinga Editor

11 July 2024 at 10:00:00

This report from Bezinga, published on 9 July 2024.

The Justice Department's plan to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug might not make it federally legal, but it's certainly stirring the pot in more ways than one. With shifting national attitudes – 24 states have legalized recreational use and another 17 for medicinal purposes— cannabis is no longer the taboo topic it once was. 

This announcement opens the door for further research and innovation, reflecting the growing acceptance and influence of cannabis on consumer behavior.

High Times And Higher Spending: The Fast Food Frenzy

A recent survey of nearly 5000 self-identified cannabis consumers led by Numerator reveals some eye-opening trends. 

For instance, THC consumers, predominantly Gen Z and Millennials with lower to middle incomes, are not just getting high, they're getting hungry. And their munchies are driving significant changes in the food and beverage market.

Per the findings, marijuana consumers spend a larger portion of their grocery budget on items like sports and energy drinks (1.7x more), beer (1.3x more), frozen sandwiches (1.3x more), frozen pizza (1.1x more), and frozen appetizers (1.1x more) compared to non-consumers.

Daily THC consumers show even more pronounced spikes, especially in categories like candy, herbs and spices, frozen potato snacks and packaged sweet snacks.

It's not just grocery stores feeling the love. Fast food and delivery services are also enjoying a significant boost from cannabis consumers.

Compared to non-consumers, THC enthusiasts are 61% more likely to have ordered from DoorDash in the past three months and 35% more likely to have used Uber Eats. And their taste buds seem to favor quick bites: visits to Little Caesars Pizza, Jersey Mike's Subs and Taco Bell are significantly higher among this group. Daily consumers take this to another level, proving that a little THC goes a long way in boosting fast food sales.

Alcohol On The Decline

Interestingly, while THC consumers spend more on alcohol annually ($496 vs. $432 for non-consumers), this trend is inversely tied to their cannabis consumption frequency.

Daily consumers spend less on alcohol ($453) compared to their infrequent counterparts ($535). Over a third of THC consumers (36%) report reducing their alcohol intake since they started using cannabis, suggesting a shift towards marijuana as a substitute.

The CBD Factor

While THC drives significant consumer behavior changes, CBD tells a different story. CBD consumers, typically Boomers with higher incomes, don't exhibit the same spending patterns. They use CBD mainly for pain management (61%), stress relief (41%), and sleep aid (38%), favoring homeopathic remedies and organic products. Their spending is more focused on health and wellness, with higher expenditures on vitamins and supplements.

Cannabis use is far more popular among younger consumers. Government research shows that 26% of 21 to 34-year-olds have used marijuana in the past month, compared to 16% of all Americans aged 21 and over. As Gen Z and Millennials continue to grow in purchasing power, understanding their preferences and behaviors becomes crucial for brands aiming to capture this burgeoning market.

The evolving landscape of cannabis use is reshaping consumer behavior in profound ways. From grocery spending to fast food preferences and alcohol consumption, the influence of THC is undeniable. As the industry moves towards more acceptance and potential federal reclassification, brands and retailers need to stay attuned to these shifts. 

After all, in the world of cannabis, it's not just about getting high, it's about redefining how we eat, drink and shop.


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