- Marijuana use among American adults has significantly increased, with over 13 percent of adults using it in 2014 compared to nearly 10 percent in 2002.
- The increase in marijuana use comes with a change in societal outlook, legal measures to decriminalize its use, and a significant boost in its potency, which calls for preventive messaging to mitigate potential harms.
- The research findings reveal that overall number of marijuana users increased from 22 million to 32 million, with daily users doubling from about 4 million to over 8 million between 2002 and 2014.
- Though there is an increase in marijuana use, the rates of marijuana abuse or dependence have held constant, with a decrease in the rate of abuse among users. Long-term monitoring is suggested to comprehend the effects of legalization on use and problem use.
- The risk of marijuana dependence is more pronounced in males, young adults, individuals with lower education levels, part-time workers, individuals handling depression, and those who use tobacco or other substances.
In recent years, the use of marijuana among American adults has significantly increased, with a notable surge in the frequency of usage, as noted in a current study.
In a survey conducted in 2014, it was found that over 13 percent of adults had used marijuana in the year prior, a considerable increase from the nearly 10 percent reported in 2002. More prominent was the rise in habitual use, with the percentage of adults using marijuana five days a week or more nearly doubling from less than 2 percent to close to 4 percent within the same period.
Increased Acceptance of Marijuana and Legal Measures
The increase in marijuana use has been marked with a more positive societal outlook towards the drug, as well as pushed by legal measures to decriminalize its use. The last two decades have seen the legalization of medical marijuana in twenty-five states, in addition to the District of Columbia. However, the concomitant rise in marijuana’s potency calls for education on its potential harm.
Necessity of Preventive Messaging
As the instances and frequency of marijuana use increase, there is an urgent need for appropriate preventive messaging to mitigate the risk of dependence and other associated problems. Possible problems could range from impairment in work performance to inhibitions in cognitive functions.
The findings of the study were based on the survey of nearly 600,000 adults from 2002 to 2014. The overall number of marijuana users was estimated to have increased from 22 million to 32 million during that period. The number of new marijuana users was also reported to have risen from 800,000 to 1.4 million, and daily users more than doubled from about 4 million to over 8 million.
Changing Perceptions Towards Marijuana
Increased marijuana use has correlated with a change in public opinion of the drug’s safety. Previously, only one-third of Americans perceived it as safe, whereas now that figure stands at half, according to the study. However, even with increased usage, the study noticed that the rates of marijuana abuse or dependence held constant at about 1.5 percent during the 2002 to 2014 period. Interestingly, among the marijuana users, the rate of abuse or dependence decreased from 15 percent to 11 percent.
According to Wayne Hall, director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at Australia’s University of Queensland, it’s unclear why the rise in marijuana use has not resulted in a proportional increase in the number of problem users. This could be due to a decrease in younger users, who are more susceptible to develop problems, and increased usage from older people.
The Requirement for Long-Term Monitoring
Hall implies that it is too early to assess the long-term ramifications of these trends and suggested monitoring marijuana usage over future years to comprehend the effects of legalization on the rates of use and problem use.
Demographics More Likely To Develop Dependence on Marijuana
The study identified certain demographics who are more likely to develop a dependence on marijuana, including males, younger adults, individuals with lower education levels, part-time workers, individuals who have depression, and those who use tobacco or other substances.
One expert, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana advocacy group NORML, believes in a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. He suggests restricting and discouraging its use among young people to best reduce the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse.
You can find more on the subject of marijuana at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.