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76% of Medical Users Shop in Rec Market

According to new Health Canada data, 14% of Canadians over age 16 use cannabis for medical purposes. Only one in four (24%), however, have documentation from a healthcare professional, which means that at least 76% of medical cannabis patients are not purchasing medical cannabis.

Where Are They Shopping?

When a patient receives a prescription for medical cannabis, that prescription gives them access to one specific licensed producer of their choice, which fills it and sends it out in the mail. Health Canada data shows that only 22% of medical cannabis users purchased directly from licensed producers. The majority purchased from legal stores (44%) or online (23%), or their green-thumbed friend (17%).

Around 35% reported using cannabis daily, so if, as the data shows, medical cannabis users are turning to recreational cannabis for their medicine, retailers should know what they’re looking for.

What Are Clients Looking For?

The most common products that medical users turn to are dried flower (54%), orally ingested cannabis oil (48%), and edibles (33%). Vape products (14%), topical ointments (18%), and other extracts and concentrates (10%) are also popular, however, inhalable products are starting to be replaced by edibles. Generally, it’s males (64%, compared to 46% of females), and the folks between 16 and 24 who prefer flower (79%), compared to only half of respondents over 25 (50%). Around half of these flower users consume it daily (49%), around 1.8 grams per day, while 18% use it either weekly or monthly. For those who prefer cannabis oil, 37% use it daily, on average around 1.4 millilitres per day. Approximately 22% use it either weekly or monthly.

Appreciation for CBD

The main difference between medical cannabis users and their recreational counterparts is medical users’ appreciation for CBD. Around one-quarter (26%) of respondents said that they preferred higher CBD to THC, and 15% reported using CBD-only products. Higher THC products were popular with 21% of respondents, and 12% preferred equal levels of both cannabinoids, while 14% said they got creative with a mix of products.

Higher Basket Size

Since many medical cannabis users are daily users, they tend to buy in bulk. According to the data, most medical users shop monthly and buy enough to last until the next month. On average, they purchased 25.2 grams of dried flower, 10.2 servings of edibles, or 25.3 millilitres of cannabis oil, per month.

Until obtaining a medical cannabis prescription, and medical cannabis for that matter, is as easily accessible as recreational cannabis, medical cannabis patients will continue to shop through storefronts rather than licensed producers. In the meantime, it behooves retailers to keep them in mind when stocking their shelves.