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Survey: Cannabis Consumers Typically Prefer Herbal Cannabis Over Concentrates

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Tempe, AZ: Nearly eight in ten cannabis consumers say that they prefer herbal cannabis over [cannabis]-infused concentrates, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Concentrates typically possess significantly higher cannabinoid levels, in particular THC, than does herbal cannabis.

Researchers with Arizona State University surveyed 574 subjects with a history of consuming both herbal cannabis and [cannabis] concentrates. Seventy-eight percent of respondents selected herbal cannabis over concentrates as their “preferred type of cannabis.” Respondents said that the consumption of concentrates was more likely to result in unwanted effects, such as paranoia, memory disruption, and hangovers. Respondents also said that herbal cannabis was more effective at providing pain relief and that it was a better value for their money than concentrates.

Authors concluded: “Findings showing that [cannabis] produces greater positive effects than concentrates are consistent with cannabis administration studies documenting that moderate THC doses are preferred to high doses. … The present study suggests that, contrary to concerns, ultra-high THC cannabis, such as concentrates, might not produce greater positive, reinforcing effects relative to lower-THC cannabis, such as [cannabis] (flower).”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The conclusion that most [cannabis] consumers prefer low-to-moderate potency options over high potency options is hardly surprising. Just as the majority of those who consume alcohol prefer relatively low potency beer or wine over hard liquor, most adult-use cannabis consumers gravitate toward herbal cannabis preparations and away from the comparatively stronger alternatives.”

Separate analyses of retail sales data, such as those here and here, report that consumers are far more likely to purchase herbal cannabis than any other type of cannabis preparation.

Full text of the study, “A within-person comparison of the subjective effects of higher vs. lower-potency cannabis,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.


NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of [cannabis] by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use [cannabis] responsibly are no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for [cannabis]-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.

Find out more at and read our Fact Sheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country

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