Understanding California's Legal Cannabis Market: Insights from Recent Survey

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Polling data revealed insights into how consumers understand and participate in the legal cannabis market in California.

On February 26, 2024, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) released results and analysis from a survey conducted on perceptions of various aspects of the legal cannabis in the state since the passing of Proposition 64 in 2016 (1).

More than one thousand adults were surveyed on their views concerning legal recreational cannabis sales and purchasing habits (1). Two results highlighted by the DCC were: 86% of the respondents stated that purchasing from the legal market was important, and that 72% of participants said purchasing cannabis from a licensed dispensary was a responsibility of the consumer (1).

The survey was part of the DCC’s Real California Cannabis campaign to help educate consumers on how to identify licensed dispensaries and the benefits of purchasing from them as opposed to unlicensed dispensaries (1).


As explained on the Real CA Cannabis website, most communities in the state prohibit retail cannabis sales, and as a result, many unlicensed dispensaries operate in the state (2). “Education and enforcement are two of the key pillars that support a well-regulated cannabis market,” said Nicole Elliott, Director of the DCC, in the announcement (1). “The Real California Cannabis campaign will provide cannabis consumers with information that empowers them to make informed decisions regarding their cannabis purchases. These smart choices support safer communities, local businesses, and our continuous efforts to disrupt the illegal market.”

The survey included participants who lived in locations without legal retail cannabis and out of these respondents, 85% either “either incorrectly thought cannabis retail was allowed in their area, or had no idea about the local laws,” (1).

The DCC survey results also included the following list (1):

  • 88% of respondents who have consumed cannabis said they would purchase cannabis products from a licensed retailer.
  • 56% of respondents said they have used cannabis.
  • 44% percent said it was easy to identify if a retailer was licensed.
  • 42% said it was difficult to tell if a retailer was licensed or unlicensed.

Also recently in California cannabis news: a new cannabis beverage facility opened in Los Angeles and a settlement was reached over damages from an illegal cannabis cultivation operation.


  1. 86% of Californians who consume cannabis believe it is important to shop legally. Department of Cannabis Control California. February 26, 2024.
  2. (accessed Feb 27, 2024).