In the rhetoric surrounding cannabis legalization debates, opponents are often quick to argue that legalization will encourage more teenagers to begin consuming cannabis. However, studies published this summer found teen use had actually dropped since legalization.
Adults, on the other hand, may be a different story. A study published on Wednesday found that adult use of cannabis has more than doubled in the past 10 years in the United States. In 2001-2002, 4.1 percent of American adults said they had used cannabis within the last year, compared to 9.5 percent of American adults in 2012-2013, according to the study.
The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal from the American Medical Association, was conducted through over 79,000 face-to-face interviews with participants randomly chosen across the country and across demographic groups.
With the rise of adult use came an increase in “marijuana use disorders” — which the study defined as abuse of or dependence on cannabis. The percentage of American adults with marijuana use disorders rose from 1.5 percent in 2001-2002 to 2.9 percent in 2012-2013, according to study results.
“Given changing laws and attitudes toward marijuana, a balanced presentation of the likelihood of adverse consequences of marijuana use to policy makers, professionals, and the public is needed,” the study’s authors concluded. “While many in the United States think prohibition of recreational marijuana should be ended, this study and others suggest caution and the need for public education about the potential harms in marijuana use, including the risk for addiction.”
However, the study did note that the proportion of cannabis users who developed the marijuana use disorders had decreased significantly. While 35 percent of users had the disorder in 2001-2002, only 30 percent of users had the disorder in 2012-2013, which may be due to an increase in effective education on how to consume marijuana safely.
The study was sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While the NIDA has been increasingly opening up to the legitimacy of medical marijuana, they still remain a conservative voice in the face of states across the nation who are pushing forward with regulating recreational cannabis.
Do you think the number of adults who use cannabis will continue to increase? Let us know in the comments.