Where’s the cannabis aisle? Study shows 1 in 3 Americans want weed in grocery stores

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If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that Americans want easy access to weed – now.

States are legalizing cannabis right and left, and the legal cannabis industry is bringing in more money than ever before.

RELATED: Recreational cannabis sales soar despite COVID-19

But despite cannabis delivery becoming increasingly normalized and dispensaries evolving ever-more into manifestations of millennial nirvana, some Americans want to expend even less effort buying herb.

According to a recent study, 1 in 3 Americans would like to be able to purchase cannabis in grocery stores. They’d also like to see weed in newsstands, convenience stores, and gas stations.

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The study, conducted by a marketing company called Digital Third Coast (DTC,) surveyed 1,062 participants in April of 2021. Of the respondents, 31% were game for cannabis in food aisles. 26% of respondents also believed cannabis dispensaries should be free to open near schools, houses of worship, or residential areas.

“We think people want to see cannabis in grocery stores for the ease and convenience of it, and also likely for the de-stigmatizing effects it would have,” Odette Rivera Davis, a Content Strategist at DTC who was involved in the study, told GreenState. “We’ve noticed an increase in interest around cannabis by the general public.”

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The implications of supermarket weed would reach far beyond convenience. Heather Despres, Director of Patient-Focused Certification at Americans for Safe Access (ASA,) says industry stakeholders might want to be careful what they wish for.

“Selling in grocery stores would have a direct impact on the dispensary model that is currently in place,” Despres told GreenState. “This potentially larger sales model would mean that there may be more generic producers, and craft producers would become a more niche market.”

Despres also warned that, in a hypothetical world where cannabis is sold in grocery stores, medical marijuana patients should continue to consult a healthcare provider before purchasing, and collect their prescribed dose at a pharmacy—not, say, the baked goods aisle.

“If medical cannabis were to be sold in grocery stores, the ideal place would be the pharmacy,” Despres said. “We are concerned with patient access as well as safety. So, if a grocery store pharmacy was legally permitted to sell medical cannabis to patients, then we would support that.”

Though it’s unlikely that we’ll see cannabis in supermarkets anytime soon (cannabis companies still don’t have access to safe banking, so cannabis products could not be paid for with debit/credit cards in grocery stores, even in states where cannabis is legal) the fact that the idea received any support shows just how far public opinion of weed has come in the past few years.

Though opinions differed on where it should be sold, 81% of those surveyed in DTC’s study approved of cannabis legalization.

“Overall, it looks like more and more Americans are getting used to the idea of cannabis being legal for use, whether it be medical or recreational,” Davis said. “The future of the industry looks brighter than ever.”

Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to elli.esher@hearst.com.