Survey reveals a fact most WA weed consumers miss

washington weed consumer survey: image of WA mountain with cannabis leaves over the top

Washington legalized cannabis in November 2012 with Initiative 502, and the first adult-use weed was sold in 2014. Not much has changed in the state since then–not even consumer shopping habits. Cannabis industry operators have long reported one key issue: people overvalue THC percentage.

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The WA Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) recently published results from an opt-in survey of cannabis consumers in the state. Much was revealed, like more than half of respondents smoke every day. Out of all the collected information, the most interesting takeaway is that consumers both need and desire more relevant weed education.

Over 400 respondents opted in on the survey, which was distributed to local dispensary employees and advertised on flyers in weed shops throughout the state. The average age of participants was 40, and about half identified as women. 76 percent of people who answered are white, which accurately represents the state census information.

Medical cannabis exists, WA consumers just don’t know it

Findings looked at responses from budtenders against the general consumer. Budtenders were more informed about the plant and how the state runs weed shops compared to consumers, but everyone has a lot to learn about the small but existing medical program.

Survey respondents took a quiz to measure their knowledge of existing laws and regulations. Cannabis products are legally tested for some foreign contaminants. Only 66 percent of consumers knew this, compared to 92 percent of budtenders.

Knowledge about heavy metals testing was disappointing. Only medical products are required to be heavy metals tested, 37 percent of budtenders and 29 percent of consumers knew this. 68 percent of budtenders and 75 percent of consumers believe that there is no difference between medical and non-medical cannabis in the state.

Washington has recreational and medically endorsed stores authorized to remove taxes from medical patient purchases. Just under half of respondents on the customer side knew there was any difference between Washington medical and adult-use cannabis.

Lastly, 88 percent of customers did not know how to find test results for their weed products. In actuality, they are at each store available by request.

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Here’s what people want to know about weed

The results of this quiz highlight a need for more education, as does the look at shopping habits. Budtenders are apt to pick up weed based on the look, manufacturing practices, and brand. Meanwhile, customers by and far weigh THC content overall. This indicates that consumers need more access to education at the retail level, and they know it.

Half of the respondents were either “interested” or “extremely interested” in educational materials at their weed shops. They are seeking more about the cannabis plant, like terpenes and medical benefits, pesticides, and grower information.

Surveyed consumers also wanted to learn about the best ways to safely store weed, specifically, where to find lockable containers and what happens if a pet gets some. There was also much interest in cannabis DUI consequences and coordination after consuming.

Consumers want to know more, and budtenders are the main source of information about weed products. The survey from Washington highlights that even after more than 10 years, a cannabis consumer base can be in the dark. Budtenders are purchasing weed much like they do food, based on the brand ethics, the look of the product, and manufacturing practices. Meanwhile, consumers are still banging their hammers against the THC nail, hoping to find what they need.

Now that it’s clear people both want and need more education about weed it’s time to identify what kind of education will stick.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.