By: Sarah Mills 

It’s 4:20 – Do You know where your grandparents are?

According to recent article published in the Toronto Sun, there has been a notable increase in cannabis use among seniors, challenging preconceived notions about the typical cannabis consumer. The study reveals that a growing number of elderly individuals are turning to cannabis for various reasons, with estimates suggesting that around 17% of seniors aged 65 and older have tried cannabis within the past year. This surge in usage among seniors highlights the untapped potential of this demographic in the cannabis industry. As a former manager of one of Ontario’s early recreational cannabis shops, I have personally witnessed the unique challenges faced by seniors seeking access to cannabis and the rewarding opportunities in serving this overlooked market.

Initially, I assumed that the majority of our sales would come from students in our university town. However, to my surprise, seniors represented a significant portion of our business. 

Some seniors would come in seeking medical advice, even though we were legally not allowed to provide it. They had been turned away by their family doctors or influenced by well-meaning relatives. Others yet would arrive with a prescription in hand after visiting the nearby regional cancer center, unaware that medical and recreational cannabis were not one and the same. 

There were even those who initially wandered through our doors under the mistaken impression that we were an actual flower shop. While some left, many stayed to talk and even make a purchase after receiving an unexpectedly warm welcome from a group of people ready to change societies perception surrounding cannabis use.  

Regardless of how they ended up at our store, as a full-time budtender, I quickly recognized that seniors formed a unique consumer base with a specific set of challenges. 

Therefor, finding access to cannabis can be an intimidating process. If a senior’s first experience with retail cannabis is not positive, they are unlikely to return. Being solutions driven, I formed a partnership with a medical cannabis clinic a few blocks away. I also compiled a list of local pharmacists who would happily consult with the canna-curious and advise on potential interactions between recreational cannabis and their medications. 

Additionally, I became the in-house specialist in capsules, oils and topicals, aiming to better serve my community. These efforts proved successful and I was rewarded with an incredibly loyal and patient customer base who would sometimes drive hours to visit the shop.

Seniors are the ideal consumers. They are most-often either new to cannabis or rediscovering it, more likely to purchase from multiple product categories, open to suggestions and recommendations, and have a lower tolerance than the average consumer, making them unaffected by the 10mg THC limits. They prioritize education and good customer service over the highest THC at the lowest price.

While seniors visited less frequently, they were more likely to make bulk purchases once they found a product they liked. They were undeterred by product scarcity and often left their contact information to be notified when products were back in stock. Moreover, they were substantially more likely than the average consumer to refer or bring a friend or family member with them after having a positive shopping experience. 

This all translates to transactions with a healthy average UPT (units per transaction) and ADS (average dollar spent)

The prolonged process of cannabis legalization can be attributed to the deeply ingrained biases and societal stigma surrounding the plant and its use. Over the years, cannabis has been associated with negative stereotypes and misconceptions, leading to widespread resistance and reluctance to accept its potential benefits. Breaking down these deeply rooted biases requires not only presenting new information but also fostering open dialogue, promoting scientific research, and sharing personal stories of individuals who have experienced positive outcomes from cannabis use. By challenging the stigma and addressing the misconceptions, we can create a more informed and accepting society that recognizes the value of cannabis as a legitimate option for various purposes, including medical and recreational use.

Some of the most rewarding moments I’ve experienced in this industry have been serving this overlooked demographic, and as the cannabis industry continues to evolve it is crucial that we recognize and cater to the needs of seniors who are increasingly turning to cannabis for various reasons. By providing education, accessible resources, and tailored products, we can ensure that seniors have a positive and informed experience with cannabis. It is time for the industry to embrace seniors and create a welcoming environment that addresses their unique concerns and preferences. 

Let us seize this opportunity to bridge the gap and build a cannabis community that truly serves and includes seniors, unlocking the full potential of this overlooked market segment. Together, we can shape a future where cannabis is accessible and beneficial for people of all ages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *