Cannabis Consumer Culture Around the World

What does cannabis culture look like around the world? You might be surprised by the cannabis trends across the globe!

Cannabis Consumer Culture Around the World

Cannabis is certainly a hot topic and has only gained popularity in the past few years as it has become a legal substance in Canada and cannabis products becoming more prevalent and legalized in the US.

Cannabis has been touted for both medical benefits - primarily from Cannabidiol (CBD), the nonintoxicating component of cannabis - such as relief from chronic pain symptoms,1 epilepsy symptoms,2 and even nausea caused by cancer-fighting chemotherapy drugs.1 It’s also popular for its recreational use, primarily due to the psychoactive ingredient,3 Tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH) which releases the pleasure neurotransmitter, dopamine, and causes euphoria and a ‘high.’3

One archeological study found that cannabis sativa has been harvested by humans over 12,000 years ago,4 tracing back to Neolithic people in China!

With all these different uses, cannabis consumer culture and trends vary greatly around the world. Here are just a few notable trends and traditions that are emerging among cannabis users.

Amsterdam Cannabis Coffee Shops

Coffee shops in Amsterdam may well sell tea and coffee but some also sell something a bit stronger: cannabis.

The tradition of these cannabis-coffee shop hybrids can be traced back to the late 1960s, to a woman who used to actually hand out marijuana joints for free when customers bought tea at her shop.5

From there, the first unofficial coffee shop that sold cannabis opened in 1972 and by 1980, with coffeeshops already throughout the city, a Tolerance Policy was enacted.5 The policy allowed these establishments to sell cannabis without interference from law enforcement so long there weren’t hard drugs at the location.5

Image Credit: Coffeeshop Relax ; @coffeeshoprelax

Since then, coffee shops have been a big attraction, especially for tourists. A 2019 survey which involved 1,100 international tourists, found that a majority of respondents wanted to visit Amsterdam to experience a cannabis cafe.6 34% said they would visit Amsterdam less often if they couldn’t visit cannabis cafes and 11% said they would forgo visiting at all.6

With a culture some say is ‘essential to visit’ if you want to understand the atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Amsterdam’s coffee shops are so popular.7 Even though cannabis is becoming a much more visible economy in North America with dispensaries popping up, it’s not the chill, relaxed vibe that people describe of coffee shops; where you can go and just relax, smoke, and mingle.8

Cannabis-Infused Products & Spaces

Perhaps following suit with the ambience that Amsterdam’s coffee shops invoke, North America is also experiencing a book of more cannabis-infused products.

Molson-Coors, most known for their beer, launched a non-alcoholic, CBD-infused line of sparkling drinks for consumers in Colorado, USA in January 2021.9 And they aren’t the only big beverage company eyeing the cannabis market. Coca-Cola has also said that they were interested in seeing how CBD-infused wellness beverages perform.10

With edibles like brownies, gummies, and more already very popular, there are also restaurants that are trying to attract customers that might be interested in cannabis-infused food and drinks. Zsolt Csonka, owner of New York’s first CBD restaurant and bar, Adriaen Block, said that he wanted to create an environment where people can loosen up and relieve some stress.11

Increased Use in Older Demographics

Even though cannabis is often associated with a younger demographic, recent data actually shows that cannabis use is on the rise with older demographics.

A 2019 Canadian study found that Canadians over the age of 65 grew the most in terms of cannabis use after the country legalized the use of the drug.12 The survey also revealed that it’s likely legalization that has led seniors to partake in cannabis use as a quarter of those who reported that they are using cannabis said they are new users.12

Even a US study which included adults aged 55+ found that the percentage of men aged 65-74 using cannabis doubled between 2016 and 2018.13 Possible explanations for the dramatic increase, as suggested by the researchers, were lower stigma, more access, and lax restrictions in some states.13

Notably, both these findings also suggested that the medical use of cannabis was a potential reason for the increase of use among older populations.

It’s clear that cannabis culture is being more open and exciting around North America and the globe. While the open culture is reducing stigma, it’s also important to learn more about how cannabis can affect us with all these new ways to consume. You can do this today by joining a cannabis study below!


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1.         National Academies of Sciences E, Division H and M, Practice B on PH and PH, Agenda C on the HE of MAER and R. Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Academies Press (US); 2017. Accessed August 19, 2021.

2.         MD PG. Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health. Published August 24, 2018. Accessed August 19, 2021.

3.         Facebook, Twitter. How Are CBD and THC Different? Verywell Mind. Accessed August 19, 2021.

4.         Large-scale whole-genome resequencing unravels the domestication history of Cannabis sativa | Science Advances. Accessed August 19, 2021.

5.         History. Coffeeshops of Amsterdam. Accessed August 19, 2021.

6.         Amsterdam aims to restrict tourist access to cannabis coffee shops | CNN Travel. Accessed August 19, 2021.

7.         Is Colorado Weed Better Than Amsterdam Weed? [ANSWERED]. WayofLeaf. Published March 13, 2018. Accessed August 19, 2021.

8.         What Happens In An Amsterdam Coffee Shop? - Bren on The Road. Accessed August 19, 2021.

9.         Truss CBD USA, a Molson Coors and HEXO Corp Joint Venture, Launches VeryvellTM Sparkling CBD Water in Colorado. Published January 13, 2021. Accessed August 19, 2021.

10.       Aurora Cannabis, Coca-Cola in talks to develop drinks infused with cannabidiol (CBD) - CBS News. Accessed August 19, 2021.

11.       What’s behind the rise in cannabis-infused products? - BBC Worklife. Accessed August 19, 2021.

12.       Seniors showed the most growth in cannabis use after legalization - National | Accessed August 19, 2021.

13.       Marijuana use is on the rise in older adults. Accessed August 19, 2021.