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Number of US cannabis smokers doubles since 2002

Large scale American study finds that the number of US cannabis smokers doubled since 2002. Although regular use is up, levels of dependency have not increased.

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7,000 new users per day

Almost twice as many Americans used marijuana daily or almost daily in 2014 compared to 2002 (up from 1.3% to 2.5%).

That’s the conclusion of a new report of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health which collects information on an average of 68,000 US citizens aged over 12 years old every year. The study does not survey people in institutions so presents a picture of mainstream America. The report compares marijuana use in 2014 with 2002.

The main findings make for very interesting reading:

  • In 2014, a total of 2.5 million persons aged ≥12 years had used marijuana for the first time during the preceding 12 months, an average of approximately 7,000 new users each day.
  • In 2014, the estimated national prevalence of past month marijuana use among persons aged ≥12 years was 8.4%.
  • The numbers of people smoking cannabis every month had increased in every age group, with the rate of increase fastest amongst the over 55s (from 1.1% to 6.1%).
  • There was a substantial rise in the number of Americans using cannabis on a daily/almost daily basis for every age group apart from those aged 12-17 years (where the rate fell from 8.2% to 7.4%)
  • Over this time period, Americans were less likely to regard smoking cannabis once or twice as presenting a risk to their health.
  • Interestingly, despite these large increases in the numbers of people using cannabis regularly, the rate of past year marijuana dependence and abuse decreased by 11.0% among all persons aged ≥12 years (from 1.8% in 2002 to 1.6% in 2014).
  • Americans were more likely to buy or grow their own marijuana and less likely to be given it for free or for sharing.

last month marijuana use


Although NSDUH data suggest increases in daily and almost daily use among adults (both in the overall population and among adult marijuana users), they also suggest steady decreases in the prevalence of marijuana dependence and abuse among adult marijuana users since 2002.

Typically, increased prevalence of marijuana use has been linked to increased prevalence of marijuana dependence or abuse. These findings suggest that refined measures of frequency (e.g., number of times per day, week, month, or year) of use might be needed to better quantify how often and what types of products (e.g., inhaled, eaten, infused, drank) persons are using to better estimate and understand marijuana consumption in the United States.

With changes in medical marijuana laws and, in particular, state laws or policies allowing limited access to low percentages of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), persons who use marijuana daily for medical reasons might be using strains that pose lower risk for dependence or abuse.

As marijuana use becomes more commonplace, different patterns of use behavior might account for a substantial proportion of the increase in marijuana use among persons aged ≥18 years. Therefore, the study concludes, more research and surveillance data on marijuana use, frequency of use, and dependence are warranted.

However, it is an interesting fact to bear in mind that now one in 12 adult Americans smokes cannabis every month.


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