Cannabis is in and alcohol is out. Is Gen Z driving the change in preference?


Now with recreational marijuana legal in 24 statesthe US Drug Enforcement Administration is moving reclassify the drug to a less hazardous category under the Controlled Substances Act.

This comes as daily users of marijuana now outnumber daily drinkers for the first time, according to a new report by Carnegie Mellon University researchers.

The change in preference is largely driven by young people. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 69 percent prefer marijuana to alcohol, according to a 2022 survey by New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm.

Work 'N' Roll, a co-working space in downtown New York City, is among the organizations hoping to capitalize on the trend among young workers. For just $15, guests can grab while they type.

“We smoke here, because it makes our work better. That's our secret sauce,” said Matthew Everett, patron of Work 'N' Roll.

“I switched to cannabis because I saw that there are limitless possibilities with flavors,” he added. “And I found like, hey, I don't have a hangover the next day either.”

Marijuana sales among Gen Z women in particular have more than doubled since the shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Cannabis analytics firm Headset.

At Work 'N' Roll, alcohol is prohibited, but it's perfectly fine to bring your own cannabis or have it delivered to your door.

But not everyone sees the rise in marijuana use as a positive, including addiction psychiatrist Colin Reiff.

Reiff points to a recent National Institutes of Health study that links schizophrenia to excessive cannabis use among some young people, especially young men, at an age when their brains are still maturing.

“The legal age for cannabis should be around 33, when people are outside the window of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and a lot of other things,” Reiff said. “Or certainly it should be after 26, once the prefrontal cortex has finished developing.”

Cannabis has also become more potent over the years. The average level of THC, the main compound in marijuana that triggers its psychoactive effects, rose from 4% in 1995 to more than 15% in 2021, a fourfold increase, according to the latest figures from the Potency Monitoring Project from the University of Mississippi. .

But for Everett, those numbers don't tell the whole story.

“Over time, as I began to educate my parents more, they began to understand that cannabis was less destructive to my lifestyle than alcohol, and I even made them try cannabis,” Everett said.

When asked how that went, Everett said, “They enjoyed it. My mom, she had cancer and it helped alleviate some of her symptoms, and my dad thought it was pretty funny.”

For Golda Moldavsky and Ellis Sudak, two other Work 'N' Roll patrons in their twenties, there is no shortage of alcohol.

“I never thought it wouldn't be here, honestly,” Moldavsky said.

“I don't miss it,” Sudak said.


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