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Something (Legal in Two States) to Chew on During the Big Game

A larger group of consumers would rather eat or drink marijuana compared with those who prefer to smoke it

cannabis leaf foodballSuper Sunday and consumption are such a strong fit, it’s almost like Christmas in February. People buy gear to show team spirit, they watch some of the year’s priciest commercials and they ingest lots and lots of pizza and beer. This year, another kind of consumption is attached to the Big Game, which will be played between teams whose states (Colorado and Washington) are the only two where recreational marijuana use is legal. 

The jokes started early and easy (“Weed Bowl,” “Bong Bowl”) and have not really evolved (“Can’t wait to see that scoreboard light up”)—but President Obama brought some gravity to the situation when he was quoted in The New Yorker saying marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, prompting the White House to clarify that the president remains opposed to nationwide decriminalization. 

Then NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would consider allowing athletes to use marijuana for concussions and other head injuries if medical experts found it to be “proper usage.” He added that the NFL’s medical experts haven’t found that, but ex-Broncos wide receiver Nate Jackson said he chose marijuana over opiates for injuries when he played. 

Food businesses should take marijuana seriously, too. The Hartman Group’s new report, A Culture of Wellness, found 36 percent of adult consumers have used cannabis—and our research shows adoption of marijuana may well be driven by food and beverages infused with marijuana as a functional ingredient. Only 4 percent of consumers are interested in smoking marijuana, compared to 24 percent interested in food or beverage only and 14 percent interested in all “formats.” Interestingly, marijuana’s medicinal properties are more appealing to consumers than its recreational benefits.  

cannabis use

Already edible marijuana products are flying off shelves in Colorado, shattering expectations and requiring retailers to limit sales per customer, according to The Denver Post and others. The state began legalized recreational sales of marijuana products on January 1, and within three days the area’s largest supplier ran out of a month’s supply of marijuana edibles. 

cannabis leaf foodball

To learn more about consumers’ attitudes and behaviors about marijuana and how health and wellness continues to evolve, download the A Culture of Wellness report overview and order form.


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As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.


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