Drivers of Purchase Decisions for Cannabis Products Among Consumers in a Legalized Market: A Qualitative Study
Background: Cannabis was legalized in Canada for non-medical use in 2018. The goal of legalization was to improve health and safety by creating access to regulated products, with accurate product labels and warnings and no risk of contamination. However, more than two years post-legalization, a large proportion of purchases are still suspected to be through unlicensed retailers. This study sought to identify the factors that influenced the purchase decisions of cannabis consumers in
... mers in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Methods: Semi-structured focus groups and interviews were conducted in NL with individuals who were >19 and had purchased cannabis within the last 12 months. All sessions were conducted virtually, audio-recorded, and transcribed. A thematic analysis was conducted, and two members of the research team coded the data using NVivo. A combination of deductive and inductive coding was carried out, themes from the literature were identified, and new themes from the transcripts were discovered. A final coding template of the data was agreed upon by the team through discussion and consensus. Results: A total of 23 individuals (30% female) participated, with 83% coming from urban areas. While all cannabis product types were discussed, the conversation naturally focused on dried leaf products. Participants discussed a variety of considerations when making purchase decisions categorized around five broad themes: 1) price, 2) quality, 3) packaging and warnings, 4) the source of the cannabis, and 5) social influences. The price difference between licensed and un-licensed sources was commonly discussed as a factor that influenced purchase decisions. Product quality characteristics (e.g. size, color, moisture content) and social influences were also considered in purchase decisions. Participants were generally indifferent to packaging and warning labels but expressed concern about the excessive packaging required for regulated products. Conclusion: This study explores the many attributes that influence purchase decisions for dried leaf cannabis. Understanding the drivers of purchase decisions can help inform policy reforms to make regulated cannabis products more appealing to consumers. Further research is needed to measure the effect of each attribute on cannabis purchase decisions.