Everyone in the United States is stoned. If that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, we’re not going to lie, it sort of is. But it is not far-fetched to suggest that there could come a day when most of the population has settled into the cannabis scene in the same way it has done with alcohol over the past several decades. There is now, in fact, evidence that more of the nation is headed in the direction of the doobie. Uncle Sam and his band of white coat goons, which makes it part of the federal government’s keeping track of the country to gauge drug use in America every single year, has just announced the results of its latest glimpse into our feel-good affairs. It seems that long gone are the days when pot was just something done by longhairs driving around in Monte Carlos listening to Rush’s “Moving Pictures” album at full blast.
“Today’s Tom Sawyer he gets high on you…”
The cannabis plant has since crossed the imaginary line that separates the dregs of society from the cool kids, and now it is showing up in more households than ever before. But for those worried that weed is going to turn the future generations into a red-eyed legion of go-nowhere losers, never fear. It appears that only adults are finding comfort in the herb these days. Kids are apparently looking for something new to get into, and it apparently has less to do with intoxicating substances.
The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is conducted under the guidance of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), finds that marijuana use is rapidly increasing all across the United States. The data shows there has been a 35% uptick in pot consumption over the past 15 years. And it is those who reside in legal marijuana states in the western part of the nation that are getting the highest. Colorado, Oregon and Washington, all of which have legalized for recreational use, smoke more weed than any other state in the country. The District of Columbia, however, also showed an impressive level of pot consumption, even though a Congressional rider prevents this area from having a retail market.
Other states are going to need to get their act together if they want to be lumped in with the highest states in the nation come next year. Utah, we’re talking to you specifically. The Beehive State had the lowest cannabis consumption levels in the nation. It has experienced only a 2% increase since 2002. We’re going out on a limb here and saying that you guys aren’t even trying. Yet, it actually comes as no surprise that Utah is the most sober sector in the land, considering that what isn’t made of rock is influenced by the Mormons. We learned last year that they’re no friend of weed.
But who are the people smoking all of this weed?
Well, it is not who you might expect. It is those Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 that are getting high the most, the survey finds. The next age group where marijuana use is becoming more prevalent is those 26 and older. This is the first time in history that this demographic has surpassed teenagers in their pot-smoking endeavors. But that’s because marijuana consumption among the youngsters in this country appears to be in decline. While the rates of adult marijuana use have double nationwide, teenaged consumption rates have dropped off by around 25%. Alcohol is still the leading drug of choice among teens, but they are even drinking less, similar studies have shown. They have presumably watched the members of their family mess up their lives through substance abuse and now have an aversion to that lifestyle.
Regardless of how it came about, this is the “Ah-ha” moment the cannabis community has been waiting for — the one where it finally gets to throw it in the faces of local, state and more importantly federal lawmakers that, despite all of the concerns about more teens using weed on the heels of legalization, establishing a legitimate pot market doesn’t equate an increase in minor consumption.
“Regulation and education is a more effective and a more preferable tool to discourage youth use and access than is criminalization,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement. “A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults but restricts its use among young people — coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms — best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse. By contrast, advocating for the marijuana’s continued criminalization only compounds them.”
The reasons that adult marijuana use continues to spread is not supernatural. The population has learned that pot isn’t necessarily the great destructor that it has been purported to be all of these years. More folks have learned that weed is not going to lead them down a rabbit hole to addiction, while others have found its therapeutic benefits more appealing then pharmaceutical drugs.
Others, well, they have discovered that all of the stuff they enjoy in life is just more interesting and, above all, more enjoyable with a buzz. To most users, it doesn’t matter if the cannabis plant or any of its trendy derivatives will eventually save the world, they are content with it at face value.
The truth is Americans are moving toward a day when marijuana is just a normal part of life. We are now in the final stretch of a shift in public opinion that will almost certainly force federal lawmakers to make changes to the law in the foreseeable future. Some of the latest Gallup polls consistently show that a vast majority of the population (62-65%) support the legalization of marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. Congress, which mostly continues to ignore the issue, will have no choice soon but to offer a response. We expect these power moves to spark a tremendous amount of debate of this popular issue following the 2020 election.
TELL US, are you surprised underage cannabis use is down?