More Americans smoke marijuana daily than drink alcohol: new study

More Americans smoke marijuana daily than drink alcohol: new study

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More Americans now report daily or near-daily marijuana use than those who drink alcohol at similar levels, marking the first time in about three decades that daily marijuana use has surpassed alcohol use, according to a new analysis released Wednesday. .

The research, published in the journal Addiction and written by Carnegie Mellon University drug policy researcher Jonathan Caulkins, analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which had more than 1.6 million participants. in nearly 30 surveys between 1979 and 2022. Although alcohol consumption is even more widespread, the analysis found that 2022 was the first time people reported consuming more cannabis daily or nearly daily than alcohol.

In 2022, about 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or almost daily compared to 14.7 million who reported drinking daily or almost daily, according to the analysis. In 1992, when marijuana use was at its lowest point, fewer than 1 million people said they used the drug every day, while 8.9 million reported drinking alcohol daily.

“Until the mid-1990s, only one in six or one in eight of these users used the drug daily or nearly daily, similar to about one in ten with alcohol,” Caulkins and Stanford University professor Keith Humphries. in Washington Monthly about the analysis. “Now, more than 40 percent of marijuana users use it daily or almost daily.”

The upward trend coincides with changes in cannabis policy. According to the analysis, trends in cannabis have decreased during “periods of increased restriction” and increased during “periods of policy liberalization.”

Reclassification of marijuana: President Biden praises ‘big step’ toward easing federal marijuana rules

Marijuana “is no longer a drug for young people”

The analysis noted that while “many more” people drink alcohol than use marijuana, frequent alcohol use is less common.

According to the analysis, in 2022, the average drinker reported drinking alcohol on four to five days in the past month, compared to 15 to 16 days last month for marijuana users. And from 1992 to 2022, there was a 15-fold increase in the per capita rate of daily or near-daily marijuana use, the analysis found.

The analysis added that cannabis consumption patterns have also shifted towards cigarette consumption patterns. But marijuana use is still not as high as cigarette use, according to the analysis, which cited a 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that said about 58% (more than 24 million people) of last month’s cigarette smokers smoked daily.

The analysis also found that marijuana “is no longer the drug of the young.” In 2022, people 35 and older accounted for “slightly” more days of use than those under 35, according to the analysis.

“As a group, 35- to 49-year-olds consume more than 26- to 34-year-olds, who represent a larger share of the market than 18- to 25-year-olds,” Caulkins and Humphries wrote in Washington Monthly. . “The 50 and older demographic accounts for slightly more days of use than those 25 and younger.”

Federal Government Takes Step to Change Marijuana Rules

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a landmark proposal to ease restrictions on marijuana by reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug.

Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, are considered very dangerous, addictive, and are not accepted for medical use. Schedule III medications are considered to have moderate to low physical and psychological dependence potential and include medications such as Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids.

While reclassifying marijuana does not make it legal at the federal level, the change represents an important step in bridging the gap between federal and state cannabis laws.

As of April, medical and recreational marijuana are legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Pew Research Center. And 14 other states have legalized cannabis for medical use only.

The reclassification of marijuana will also allow for greater research and medical use of the drug, as well as potentially leading to lighter criminal penalties and greater investment in the cannabis sector.

Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; Reuters