Government surveys have revealed that marijuana use among American adults has doubled over the past decade, rising to almost 10 percent of the total population – or more than 22 million people that mostly use it for recreational purposes.
This is not a surprising finding, seeing that the cultural shift leans towards more permissive views about the drug; researchers also noted that previous studies found more and more adults think recreational marijuana should be legalized. So far, four states have already adopted laws in favor of this.
As far as addiction and abuse go, experts discovered the rate has slightly decreased from the figures of a decade ago, declining to almost 1 in 3 users presenting signs of marijuana dependence. The study has based its results on a comparison between two health surveys, one from 2001-02 and the other from 2012-13, both funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For the study, researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with roughly 80,000 adults aged 18 and older, asking them about various health-related behaviors. For example, the volunteers were asked about their marijuana use over the past year, and if they had seen signs of problematic use.
According to the latest survey, these marijuana-related problems can range from inability to reduce heavy use, and continuing to use even though they knew it may damage health, cause anxiety and depression. More than 6.8 million adults reported one of the aforementioned problems.
Prevalence of marijuana use had increased among all ages, but adults aged 18-29 turned out to be the heaviest recreational users – no surprise there. Surveys also showed that marijuana has also become popular among teens – almost 23 percent of high school students said they used the drug in the past month in 2013.
Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the study’s results showed, however, that percentage has remained fairly unchanged over the past decade. Seeing that most states hadn’t legalized medical marijuana during the survey years, it’s most likely that the results a reflection of mostly recreational use.
Lead author Deborah Hasin, a substance abuse researcher and a Columbia University professor, explains that the results are proof that “people can use marijuana without harms, but there are risks,” adding that further investigations on direct causes of problematic use are required.
So far, recreational use has become legal in four states – Oregon, Alaska, Washington, and Colorado – and many others are working to get there. Some have joined the trend by reducing penalties for marijuana possession.
Image Source: The Smoking Bud