Study: Marijuana Use Trends In The United States

Study: Marijuana Use Trends In The United States

Marijuana use in the States has been steadily on the rise for over a decade. With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving large swaths of Americans anxiety-ridden and homebound, many dispensaries have seen massive upticks in sales. It makes sense that people are turning to cannabis to help cope with these difficult times, but according to a new study, this is hardly a novel phenomenon. 

The Study

To help policymakers be more informed, a recent study out of Harvard set out to analyze the changes in cannabis use nationwide. Researchers examined data from before and after the majority of states adopted legislation legalizing at least some form of cannabis.

The study, authored by William Mitchell, Roma Bhatia, and Nazlee Zebardast, used data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005 to 2018. 

The survey measured three subcategories of marijuana use: 

  • Lifetime use 
  • First-time use before the age of eighteen
  • Use in the last year 

The NHANES is a biennial survey that is weighted to represent the entire US population. Participants range in age from 18 to 69. A total of 3,512 adults were surveyed in the seven cycles examined in this study. Those who partake in the survey are given a physical examination as well as an interview that includes a drug-use questionnaire. 

The Results

Researchers discovered some interesting things about America’s marijuana habits.

First of all, the data showed that the amount of people who have used cannabis sometime in their life has hardly changed in the last 14 years. In 2005, 61.5 percent of participants reported having at least one marijuana experience in their lifetime. In 2018, that figure was 60.9 percent. In the five cycles in between, the data never varied more than four percentage points.

Similarly, the seven cycles showed very little difference in the prevalence of cannabis use before the age of eighteen. The lowest figure reported was 59.6 percent in 2005, and the highest was 62.7 percent in 2009, making for a range of only 3.1 percent. 

The big variance that the study found was in the prevalence of people who reported using marijuana in the last year. Of Americans surveyed by the NHANES, 19.1 percent described having used cannabis in the last year in 2005. Compare that number to 2018, where 29.1 percent of those surveyed reported consuming marijuana in the last year. The 10 percent range is by far the largest in the study, and the prevalence steadily increases throughout every iteration of the survey, unlike the other two measured two outcomes.

What Does it Mean?  

Since state-level legislation to end marijuana prohibition has become more common, so has marijuana use. The findings are not exceptionally surprising—legalization makes cannabis more accessible through legal dispensaries and removes the barrier of potential criminal repercussions that may have otherwise dissuaded potential users. With more people consuming marijuana, there has never been a better time to invest in the cannabis industry. 

Even though more people are accessing cannabis in legal markets, the use among minors has not increased the way proponents of prohibition argued it would.

Atlanta Police Department No Longer Rejects Applicants For Having Used Cannabis

Atlanta Police Department No Longer Rejects Applicants For Having Used Cannabis

In a surprisingly progressive move, the Atlanta Police Department announced that potential recruits will no longer be rejected for admitting that they have used cannabis in the past. In fact, the question regarding cannabis consumption has been completely removed from the department’s applicant pre-screening questionnaire.

Until recently, applicants were asked if they had consumed cannabis at any time in the last two years. According to the old policy, if the applicant answered ‘yes’ to that question, he or she was automatically rejected.

While seemingly groundbreaking for a department in a state where cannabis has not yet been legalized, the city’s police chief made clear this shift in policy does not give current Atlanta police officers the green light to start smoking marijuana. An applicant’s previous use of cannabis may no longer come into question, but active officers still may not consume the plant in any form.

“The use of, and attitude toward, both medical and recreational marijuana in the United States is rapidly evolving,” said Carlos Campos, the Atlanta Police Department’s director of public affairs.

“We’re not concerned so much that you used marijuana in the past, but you cannot work here as a police officer and use it,” continued Campos. “You cannot smoke marijuana if you’re an Atlanta police officer. Period. End of story.”

High Quality Officers Needed

The motivation behind the shift in policy comes from needing to attract more high-quality recruits, according to the announcement made by Chief Erika Shields. The Atlanta Police Department has seen a decline in applicants who are able to make it beyond the drug use screening in recent years. Before the policy reform, up to 60 percent of applicants had been rejected for answering ‘yes’ to the cannabis use question.

“Given the reality of this landscape, the Atlanta Police Department is increasingly encountering young applicants who are admitting to marijuana use, a question we have traditionally used to screen potential officers,” said Campos. “The result is that we are eliminating candidates who are otherwise qualified to become police officers.”

“We have to be practical about this, so that’s the change that we made,” said chief Shields after announcing the policy change. “Hopefully we’ll see it offset some of the numbers.”

Higher Salaries

Removing the cannabis screening from the hiring process isn’t the only thing the department is doing in an effort to attract more qualified applicants. They’re also offering more money. The starting salary for rookie officers in Atlanta was recently raised, and newly sworn in Atlanta police officers can expect to make $48,500.

The department has been sharing recruitment ads on its Facebook page which read, “JOIN THE ELITE APD: Looking for a fresh start in a law enforcement career? The Atlanta Police Department is hiring for police officers and we have competitive new salaries with starting officer pay beginning at $48,500.”

Higher pay and past drug use forgiveness aside, new recruits and veteran officers alike can expect to be drug tested. According to the Atlanta Police Department, there will be an increase in random drug testing to weed out officers who do not follow the law.

The department is hoping to fill 350 vacancies as soon as possible, and they expect the recent policy changes to make all the difference.


While the state of Georgia may be slow moving when it comes to cannabis policy reform, the capital city of Atlanta continues to be progressive. The possession of up to one ounce of cannabis was decriminalized in Fulton County in October 2017. Instead of facing up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, the penalty for personal possession is now just a citation with a maximum fine of up to $75.

Photos Courtesy of Atlanta Police Department

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Alaska might become the first place in the U.S. to officially permit recreational marijuana consumers the right to use cannabis in specially state-licensed establishments.

The state’s Marijuana Control Board on Wednesday published proposed changes to regulations allowing cannabis dispensaries to seek approval for onsite consumption.

An earlier proposal for consumption lounges was rejected in February 2017.

If approved, Alaska marijuana retail stores would be able to apply for an on-site consumption “endorsement.” Applications would cost $1,000, with annual renewals running $2,000.

According to the proposal, dispensaries could sell “marijuana bud or flower in quantities not to exceed one gram to any one person per day” and “edible marijuana products in quantities not to exceed 10 mg of THC to any one person per day” to customers to consume on the premises.

Patrons would be able to sample purchases made at the dispensary at either a “fenced-off outdoor area” or a separate indoor ventilated area,” the Fairbanks News Miner previously reported.

Cannabis concentrates and tobacco products would not be allowed in the consumption areas, and the rules don’t allow for people to BYOB (bring your own bud). Dispensary workers couldn’t consume marijuana at work, and there would have to be “a smoke-free area for employees to monitor the marijuana consumption area.”

Permits could be protested by local governments, but unless a local government explicitly bans on-site consumption, the state marijuana board would have the final say whether to grant the license.

If the changes are approved, Alaska would be the first state to allow such dispensary/lounge hybrids (or “sampling rooms”) at the state level.

Currently, a limited number of businesses in Denver that are not dispensaries can seek cannabis consumption lounges, following approval of a local ballot initiative.

The first, a coffee shop and cafe called The Coffee Joint, opened up in the spring. Several San Francisco dispensaries operating under permits from the medical cannabis era have consumption lounges.

But these are exceptions.

Advocates have argued that “consumption lounges” or other legal, permitted businesses where adults can consume marijuana without fear of penalty—for themselves or for the business—is one of the pieces missing from marijuana legalization, even as more states end prohibition or move in that direction.

In the states where marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over to consume, consumption in public is specifically forbidden and is punishable by a citation and fine.

Landlords also have the right to ban smoking in rental housing. This presents a conundrum. Such residents, including residents of subsidized units housing veterans or seniors, risk eviction if they consume marijuana inside. Outside, they risk a citation (or just public opprobrium). And tourists visiting legal marijuana states often have no place to consume their cannabis.

Alaska voters approved marijuana legalization in 2014.

Arguments against allowing consumption lounges similar to what consumers of alcohol take for granted—“bars”—include fears of stoned drivers causing havoc on roadways.

Regulators will accept written public comments on the proposed new rules until November 1, and will hold a public hearing on December 19 at which people can deliver oral feedback.

“After the public comment period ends, the Marijuana Control Board will either adopt the proposed regulation changes or other provisions dealing with the same subject, without further notice, or decide to take no action,” regulators’ notice says.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

Marijuana use among junior high and high school students is down across all age levels in California, according to the first survey of teen drug consumption conducted in the state since voters legalized recreational cannabis.

Results of the Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey are consistent with data from other states that have legalized marijuana, where students have also reported declining or flat cannabis use rates following the end of prohibition for adults.

“Lifetime marijuana use was reported by 4%, 17%, and 32% of students by ascending grade, declines of 4 points in 7th [grade] and 6 points in both 9th and 11th [grades],” the survey’s authors found.

“Current use occurred among 2%, 9%, and 17%, down 3 to 4 points, depending on grade.”

The rates of alcohol and other drug use have been on steady downward trends since at least 2011, according to the survey. Recreational legalization after voters’ approval in 2016 didn’t interrupt that decline, nor did the growth of the medical cannabis market in the preceding years.

Steep Cannabis Use Drops Across All Grades

Grade 7 Grade 9 Grade 11
2013-2015 2015-2017 2013-2015 2015-2017 2013-2015 2015-2017
Current marijuana use, past 30 days (%) 5.0 2.3 13.4 9.5 20.1 16.7
Ever used marijuana 7.9 4.2 23.1 17.4 37.9 31.9

California student marijuana use survey results, in percentages.

Teens indicated in the survey that a combination of peer and parental disapproval is discouraging them from using cannabis, with the number of seventh- and ninth-graders who said that they strongly disapproved of peer marijuana smoking increasing most sharply.

Results of the survey include data collected between 2015, before 57 percent of California voters approved Proposition 64, which immediately legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over in November 2016, and 2017.

While commercial medical cannabis sales have been widespread in the state for years, the new study does not take into account any potential effect from legal recreational commerce, which began on January 1 of this year.

“How the recent legalization of marijuana use for adults in California effects the declining trend among youth warrants attention,” the survey’s authors wrote.

“The next biennial survey will be of particular interest to shed light on whether the change in state marijuana laws affect these findings.”

However, the survey seems to provide initial validation for claims from marijuana legalization supporters who say that ending prohibition does not encourage more young people to consume cannabis.

In a statement, Tim Torlakson, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said that educators “must continue to be diligent in our efforts to prevent, or at least limit, marijuana use in light of the potential effect of the legalization for adults as a result of the passage of Proposition 64 two years ago.”

The survey was conducted by the California Department of Education and the California Department of Health Care Services.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

One In Four Young Americans Consume Marijuana, Survey Finds

One In Four Young Americans Consume Marijuana, Survey Finds

It turns out millennials are different than the rest of Americans: They like to smoke marijuana a lot more than the general public.

Nearly one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say they “regularly” or “occasionally” consume cannabis, according to a recent Gallup poll.

That’s nearly twice the rate of cannabis consumption than the rest of the population, 13 percent of which cops to using marijuana. And it far exceeds the percentage of adults 50 and over who say they toke up.

The survey also found that among all Americans, consuming cannabis is now considerably more popular than smoking cigars (9 percent), chewing tobacco (5 percent) or using a pipe (4 percent).

Americans aged between 50 and 64 and those 65 and over are just as likely to smoke cigars (6 percent) as they are to use cannabis (also 6 percent), according to the poll.

That’s despite a general acceptance of marijuana across age groups that’s been steadily growing for at least the past decade.

The same Gallup poll, in a separate release of results last month, found that 82 percent of Americans say that tobacco is harmful to human health, compared to just 27 percent who said they believed marijuana was threatening.

Eighteen percent of respondents said they believed marijuana wasn’t harmful at all.

These results are consistent with earlier polling that consistently finds young Americans’ attitudes are the most relaxed towards cannabis—or, possibly, they are the least inclined to fib about their marijuana habits to a stranger on the telephone.

Earlier Gallup polling in 2015 and 2017 found that 22 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds answered “yes” when asked whether or not they used marijuana.

Results are based on telephone interviews of 1,033 adults conducted between July 1 and July 11. The poll’s margin of error is plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

The same poll also fund that 20 percent of Americans still regularly or occasionally smoke cigarettes.

Predictably, America’s marijuana consumers as a whole are concentrated in the West, where cannabis has been legal the longest—these days, it is the rare Western state that does not allow cannabis use in some form—and generally considered acceptable behavior in certain circles for even longer.

Women (11 percent) were less likely to be consume marijuana than men (15 percent).

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

One In Four Young Americans Consume Marijuana, Survey Finds

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