Exploring consumer preferences for cannabis edible products to support public health policy: A discrete choice experiment

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PLoS One. 2024 May 16;19(5):e0292336. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0292336. eCollection 2024.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In October 2019, cannabis edibles were legalized for sale in Canada for non-medical use. This move was intended to improve public safety by regulating contents (including a maximum 10 mg tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per package) and packaging to prevent accidental ingestion or over consumption. This study aimed to explore consumer preferences for cannabis edibles to inform cannabis policy.

METHODS: We explored the relative importance and trade-offs consumers make for attributes of cannabis edibles using a discrete choice experiment. Attributes included type of edible, price, THC content, cannabis taste, package information, product consistency, product recommendations, and Health Canada regulation. Participants lived in Canada, were 19 years of age or older, and purchased a cannabis edible in the last 12 months. A multinomial logit (MNL) model was used for the base model, and latent class analysis to assess preference sub-groups. This study was approved by the institutional ethics committee.

RESULTS: Among 684 participants, the MNL model showed that potency was the most relevant attribute, followed by edible type. A two-group latent class model revealed two very distinct preference patterns. Preferences for group 1 (~65% of sample) were driven primarily by edible type, while for group 2 (~35% of sample) were driven almost entirely by THC potency.

CONCLUSION: This study found that consumer preferences for ~65% of consumers of cannabis edibles are being met through regulated channels. The remaining ~35% are driven by THC potency at levels that are not currently available on the licensed market. Attracting this market segment will require reviewing the risks and benefits of restricting THC package content.

PMID:38753807 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0292336