Californians Overwhelmingly Support Legal Cannabis Sources, Survey Reveals Increasing Reform Backing

California has long been at the forefront of cannabis reform, legalizing medical marijuana in 1996 and adult-use cannabis two decades later, resulting in the world’s largest cannabis market within the Golden State.

As cannabis integration deepens within California and across the nation, residents’ support for the market continues to grow.

Recently, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) unveiled survey data capturing the evolving attitudes of Californians towards the state’s cannabis industry. Conducted by FM3 Research as part of the DCC’s Real California Cannabis Campaign, the survey aimed to facilitate consumer access to verified licensed dispensaries.

Over 1,000 California adults were interviewed by FM3 Research for this data collection effort.

Rising Support and Advocacy for Legitimate Market Participation

Key findings from the survey reveal that 62% of Californians perceive Proposition 64, the voter-backed measure legalizing recreational cannabis, as having a positive impact on the state. This figure indicates an increasing trend of support since the initiative initially passed with 57% voter approval.

Moreover, a significant 86% of Californian adults prioritize purchasing cannabis from legal sources, with 72% asserting that consumers bear the responsibility to verify the legitimacy of their cannabis purchases from licensed retailers.

Despite California’s dominant position in the global cannabis economy, illicit sales remain prevalent. A 2022 Reason Foundation report disclosed that roughly two-thirds of total cannabis sales in the state originate from the illicit market.

The California Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) recently published its inaugural annual report detailing the outcomes of seizure operations conducted last year. In 2023, the task force confiscated over $312 million worth of illegal cannabis, seized nearly 190,000 pounds of cannabis, eradicated over 317,000 cannabis plants, executed 188 search warrants, confiscated 119 firearms, and seized $223,809 in cash on-site.

Director Nicole Elliot of the DCC acknowledged the UCETF’s strides in curbing illegal activities, leveraging the collective resources of over 20 state agencies and departments alongside local and federal partners.

“The UCETF’s progress in 2023 reflects California’s ongoing commitment to disrupting and dismantling illegal cannabis activity,” Elliott stated. “I look forward to working with all our partners in 2024 to build on this progress.”

Education Gaps in California’s Cannabis Landscape

While there’s a prevalent belief in seeking legal cannabis sources, the survey underscores existing education gaps regarding the state’s legal cannabis market.

The data revealed that 85% of respondents residing in regions where retail cannabis is prohibited either inaccurately believed cannabis was permitted in their area or were unaware of local laws altogether.

Director Elliott emphasized the importance of education and enforcement in fostering a well-regulated cannabis market.

“The Real California Cannabis campaign will provide cannabis consumers with information that empowers them to make informed decisions regarding their cannabis purchases,” Elliott affirmed. “These smart choices support safer communities, local businesses, and our continuous efforts to disrupt the illegal market.”

However, distinguishing licensed from unlicensed cannabis businesses seemed challenging for respondents, with 44% finding it easy and 42% finding it difficult.

Furthermore, 88% of cannabis consumers expressed a preference for purchasing from licensed retailers, with over half (56%) admitting to having used cannabis.


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