Despite increasing access to recreational marijuana, medical patients still made up a sizable portion of the market for weed in the U.S. last year, spending three times more money on the crop than recreational users, according to a report from New Frontier Data.

The Washington, D.C., cannabis analytics firm partnered with software and marketing company Baker to get a look at consumer trends in a more than 400-page report released to the Statesman Journal on Tuesday.

The report, for instance, analyzes shopping patterns for customers, showing that adult-use buyers usually shopped on Friday and Saturday, while medical patients were prone to buy on Thursday and Friday. Most preferred shopping at the tail-end of the week, the report showed.

“These markets are growing very, very aggressively,” said John Kagia, Executive Vice President of Industry Analytics with New Frontier.

Recreational customers last year spent an average of $49 on each transaction compared to patients who spent $136 on average, the report shows. To get those results, New Frontier said it accessed online ordering and loyalty information from markets such as Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico and California through its Baker partnership.

Medical patients also shopped more often — about every 10 days on average — up against adult-use customers who averaged shopping about every two weeks.

New Frontier forecasts many factors in the marijuana industry, including how many jobs the market could bring to weed-friendly locales. By 2020 in Oregon, the legal cannabis industry will create nearly 18,000 jobs, a figure that includes the recreational and medical markets along with ancillary businesses the pot industry touches, Kagia said.

The firm, however, projects Oregon’s share in the entire U.S. legal marijuana market will drop from 9.7 percent this year to a mere 4.3 percent in 2025.

Stringent lab-testing regulations that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2016 in Oregon — “some of the strictest in the country” — have proven themselves an obstacle for the legal weed industry, the firm says in the report.

“The new rules were intended to make cannabis safer for consumers, but have hit businesses hard, forcing some layoffs and even closings,” the firm says.

New Frontier wanted to aggregate a bevy of marijuana information into one place at this critical time for the industry. “The report is the first to reveal the growing discrepancy in spending between recreational and medical consumers in the fastest growing industry in the country,” the firm said.

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The report highlights the tenacity of an crop that has faced both scorn and praise in the public sphere, with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions making remarks critical of the crop since taking his post atop the Justice Department.

The Justice Department has made subcommittees to focus on, among other issues, “evaluating marijuana enforcement policy.” An Obama-era Justice Department memo largely reins in federal enforcement of marijuana laws, though the Trump Administration has signaled it may take a different tack.

Oregon lawmakers in Salem and Washington, D.C., have been pushing pro-marijuana legislation this year. Gov. Kate Brown this month signed a bill protecting marijuana customers’ identities when they buy from a retailer.

Send questions, comments or news tips to jbach@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6714. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMBach. 

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