Gen Z Choosing Weed over Alcohol and Cigarettes

The kids are alright, it seems! According to recent studies by New Frontier and The University of Washington, Gen Z is less interested in alcohol and cigarettes than previous generations, and this could be owing to the fact that many of them reached adolescence as cannabis was largely legalized. Nearly 70% of Gen Z-ers consciously prefer marijuana over alcohol, a statistic sure to make the anti-cannabis activists responsible for its criminalization roll in their graves.

Saying Goodbye To Reefer Madness

According to the study’s findings, young people are navigating the legal marijuana landscape by avoiding obsessive and escalating intake, as well as being less likely to consume alcohol or tobacco, making cannabis their preferred substance.

“Considering that cannabis carries a lower risk of dependence than do either alcohol or tobacco – and presents no risk of either fatal overdose (alcohol) or long-term impacts to the lungs (tobacco) – it suggests that the younger generation may indeed be making more considered choices about their consumption patterns. In sum, the kids are alright,” says Dr. Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., MSW, vice president of public policy research, at New Frontier Data.

While no substance consumption is without risk, cannabis is probably the least harmful option, and it’s exciting to see Gen Z free themselves from the “reefer madness” BS. Though they’re certainly not less immune to propaganda than the rest of us, Gen Z had a unique childhood experience where cannabis was legalized when many of them were in their early teens. This means that their formative years were not spent being inundated with anti-cannabis falsehoods and lies, like the famous Reefer Madness video, demonstrating the allegedly violent nature of cannabis consumers.

Reefer Madness and other anti-marijuana political campaigns were largely founded on racism and pro-timber profiteers who wanted to eliminate competition in the true spirit of American Capitalism. For nearly a century, Americans were force-fed lies and fabricated claims about the dangerous effects of marijuana: it caused violence in users, it could kill you, it’s a Class A substance on par with heroin, etc. The list goes on and on. Older folks may remember hearing these things in school, on television, or on the radio; perhaps your parents even warned you to stay away from pot as they chased their Xanax with white wine and a cigarette.

The further we move away from Depression-era ideologies, the more accepting of cannabis the population becomes. With several states (and DC) legalizing recreational cannabis, federal legalization feels closer than ever, and barriers to adequate research have been falling, leaving the scientific community (and the stoners) more educated about cannabis and its benefits.

With such prevalent rates of consumption among the youth, parents, educators, and researchers are concerned about the potential side effects. Many Gen Z youth, according to an article by, are using marijuana to treat sleep disorders or anxiety. Cannabis has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for these ailments, and increased consumption should absolutely be researched, but it should also be noted that smoking weed is awesome and people could just be having fun.

The medical benefits of cannabis are often used as talking points in pro-cannabis politics and research, and while that’s certainly important, weed is pretty dope (pun intended) and it’s great to see the public become more accepting of it.

Enjoyed that first hit? Come chill with us every week at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of the week’s best cannabis news!

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