The number of female cannabis consumers is on the rise, with health and therapeutic benefits at the forefront of the increase, according to a new study.

The New Frontier 2018-2019 Cannabis Consumer Report found that women are significantly likelier to use marijuana to alleviate stress (45 percent), relieve anxiety (38 percent), improve their sleep quality (35 percent), treat pain (31 percent), and manage nausea (14 percent).

Support for marijuana legalization and use of marijuana among women has typically lagged behind that of men. This is a point of curiosity since women are generally more liberal and open-minded on many social issues than men, sometimes attributed to them having stronger religious beliefs.

Support for marijuana reform growing among women

This gender gap in support for marijuana reform is now narrowing, with 54 percent of women in the U.S. supporting marijuana legalization, up from 44 percent in 2012.

This growth is in line with higher consumption patterns among women. According to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll, one-third of women in the U.S. have tried marijuana at least one in their lives. A 2017 report from the Cannabis Consumers Coalition goes as far as to say that women represent more than half of all cannabis consumers in the U.S.

Women make up an increasing proportion of cannabis market

In California, a recent report from online marketplace Eaze, drawing on data from 450,000 customers and 4,000 survey respondents, found that the total number of women buying marijuana had doubled in 2018 compared with 2017. Thirty-eight percent of all cannabis consumers in California are now women, according to their research.

The report from New Frontier supports these findings by suggesting that more than half of women cannabis consumers use it regularly, at least once per week.

Still, women are thought to be generally more likely to conceal their consumption of cannabis than men. A survey taken by Van der Pop, a Seattle-based publication, found that 70 percent of women believe there is still a stigma around cannabis use, and that 66 percent feel the need to hide their habit.

This appears to now be changing as more and more people are educated on the health and therapeutic benefits of responsible cannabis consumption, and as more mainstream marijuana products and conversations on the issue normalize usage.

Recreation and therapy

Both men and women use marijuana to “to relax and enjoy social experiences,” according to the New Frontier report, but women place greater emphasis on the associated health benefits.

Aside from symptoms and health issues referred to earlier, women also use cannabis to improve their gynecological health, in relation to menstruation, menopause, and to boost their sexual health.

The Van der Pop survey also suggests that ten percent of women use cannabis to enhance their sex lives.

With the continuing growth of the legal cannabis industry in the U.S., women are set to increasingly influence the form that the medical and recreational marijuana markets take.

It is estimated that women are the primary force behind 70 to 80 percent of all consumer spending in the U.S., through their direct purchasing power and their indirect influence on the spending of others. This inevitably translates into the legal cannabis market, which is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2025.

Women’s emphasis on health and wellness is already having an effect on the products on offer in cannabis markets. As the Eaze report suggests, women consumers have driven increased sales of health-friendly products and consumption methods, such as vaping dry flower, cannabis oils with a vaporizer, cannabis edibles, drops, and topicals.