Here’s Why Hispanics Grasp the Positive Power of Cannabis

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Even if you didn’t grow up watching Cheech & Chong stoner movies, we all sort of suspected that Hispanic Americans were more likely to support using cannabis as a lifestyle choice than the average American despite the stereotypical cliché. Thanks to a report published in AdAge this year, we now know that Hispanics are 42 percent more likely than the average American to be “Cannabis Campaigners,” categorized by the study as people who don’t necessarily use marijuana, but who keep abreast to health and legalization matters and who support its usage. 

In fact, this study of roughly 24,000 Americans found that only half of Cannabis Campaigners said they actually use marijuana. Members of this group viewed marijuana’s legalization as a good thing for the economy and believed the consumption of cannabis should be normalized like alcohol. AdAge reported that the study, conducted by MRI-Simmons fusing several surveys such as The National Cannabis Study,  found that Hispanics’ attitudes toward cannabis use and legalization were “significantly different than those of the general population” in their tastes in media, attitudes, and behaviors. 

Why was there such a difference between a Hispanics´mindset in comparison to everybody else’s? For starters it has to do with their youth: they are young, idealistic and therefore pro-cannabis. They are any nation’s idealists and dreamers and the youthful Hispanic population in the U.S. displays exactly these characteristics when it comes to their opinions about cannabis. The U.S. Hispanic population is among the youngest racial or ethnic group with a median age of 29.5 versus 40.6 for the non-Hispanic population, according to the Census Bureau. So it’s no wonder that Hispanics´ numbers on the survey were higher in favor of cannabis given the people taking the survey who were Hispanic are younger. Put in another way, new Pew Research Center analysis shows that the common age for a white U.S. resident is more than five times that of a Hispanic. In other words, the most common age of Hispanics in America is 11 and for whites, it’s 58. 

While their young age is a big factor, we’ll also explore why Hispanic Americans may be more naturally drawn to the plant both because of the plant’s migration from Spain and the use of entheogens like cannabis in pre-Columbian cultures. It’s also highly useful for cannabis industry marketers to take note of how to use this sociological data to reach out to a segment of the population that is already aware of the positive qualities of its usage. This translates into the wellness and leisure-time uses of marijuana and CBD products in Hispanic Americans’ lives. 

Not Under the Influence Per Say, but Still Cannabis Influencers 

So while they themselves may not be under the influence of marijuana, they are influencers in the way they accept, recommend or promote cannabis to others. Jillian Andersen, research director-consumer insights and trends for MRI-Simmons, said in an interview with Ad Age: “They (Hispanics) don’t necessarily need to be consumers to be advocating for legalization. In addition, Hispanics are 19 percent more likely to fall into the Wellness Pot Practitioners segment—a group really into cannabis as a wellness tool who are two times more likely to use CBD products.” 

For travel and hospitality marketers, Hispanics are also a potential goldmine. In the study, Hispanic consumers showed significantly more interest in using cannabis on vacation and in social settings than their counterparts. And they were 42 percent more likely to say they’d choose a vacation destination based on whether cannabis is legally available. And they’re between 15 percent and 20 percent more likely than the average American to be interested in visiting both public and members-only cannabis consumption lounges. For those who run 420-friendly Airbnb businesses such as Bud and Breakfast, The Travel Joint and Travel THC,  that list cannabis-friendly hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfast locations, take note in your marketing pitches that these percentages are even higher among Hispanic millennials and foreign-born Hispanic Americans.

It’s in the Genes: Hispanics’ Long History with Cannabis 

Before it was considered an illegal narcotic in the United States, Hispanic Americans’ ancestors, the people of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, looked to plants like cannabis (hemp, marijuana) for medicinal, healing, sacrament, and recreational purposes. Cannabis, one of the world’s oldest and most widely cultivated plants was always highly valued in Spain, Portugal, and Latin American cultures, like other American- grown entheogens like peyote, mushrooms, and ayahuasca. Entheogens is a term used to describe certain plants that are used for spiritual purposes.  In Mayan, Aztec and other pre -Columbian indigenous cultures, entheogens were honored for their capacity to guide users beyond their prescribed realities and incite perspective. Think a more ancient version of Carlos Castaneda. One would suspect that a good portion of today’s Hispanic Americans are aware of cannabis’ history in their ancestors’ cultures and thus grasp the positive power of it. 

Long before North America came in contact with cannabis, Latin American and Spain already had plenty of marijuana fans. According to cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa and reaching South America before being carried northward to North America. “Responsibility for the introduction of cannabis as an intoxicant in the Americas rests with the Spanish, with some help from the Portuguese. Prior to their conquests, Native Americans used tobacco and other substances in rituals as relaxants and hallucinogens, but not cannabis,” reported Leafly magazine. 

In fact, blame Spain for the spread of hemp production throughout the Americas. Columbus’ 1492 voyage gave way to the Columbian Exchange between the Old and New World and this famous exchange happened to include cannabis (hemp). In the early 1800s Spain instructed all viceroys in New Spain to encourage hemp production around San Jose, California and towards the end of the 19th century Mexico had already developed quite a significant marijuana culture: “It could be found growing in the wild and was commonly cultivated by peasants who mostly smoked it in pipes[…]and  was extensively used by curanderos, witchdoctors who were repositories of “the old knowledge, ”reported Leafly.  

Today it’s not just Mexican curanderos or stereotypical Chicano stoners like Cheech & Chong performing psychedelic miracles with cannabis anymore. These days it is users of medical marijuana like children dying of cancer or the elderly with severe chronic back pain who are also turning to it for pain relief. A 2018 survey by Mexico’s Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion said half of Mexicans polled oppose the legalization of marijuana and seven out of 10 disapprove of its recreational use. However, when asked specifically about legal use for medicinal purposes, nearly 90% said that was acceptable. Here’s to Hispanics’ believing in this plant’s power to heal the mind, spirit, and body.

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