A careful analysis of the federal government’s statistics on marijuana use reveals what is really happening in our country related to marijuana use. Is marijuana use going up? In which age groups are the greatest increases happening? Are there any states in which marijuana use is going down? How does current use compare to a decade ago? We’ll take a look at some of these answers based on the information in the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Marijuana and the USAWho Smokes the Most Marijuana?

Vermonters between the ages of 18 and 25 are the most likely to have smoked pot in the last year. In 2014, almost every other person in the 18-25 year old age group had smoked pot in the last year (46.28%).

After Vermont, rates of marijuana in this age group look like this:

  • New Hampshire 44.38%
  • Rhode Island 44.13%
  • Colorado 43.95%
  • Massachusetts 42.72%
  • Maine 42.03%
  • District of Columbia 41.07%

The greatest increase was seen in Colorado which in 2003 had a marijuana use rate of 36.57% – meaning there was an increase of more than 20%. In Maine and Massachusetts, there were also a significant increases but the other states were roughly the same or very slightly down.

Pre-Teen and Teens

What about the 12 to 17 age group? In which states are the numbers the highest?

Not surprisingly, Colorado topped the list of younger people using marijuana – more than one in five (20.81%).

Next in line:

  • District of Columbia 19.41%
  • Oregon 18.32%
  • Vermont 18.17%
  • New Hampshire 17.99%
  • Washington 17.53%

What is surprising is that among these states, Vermont and New Hampshire had significant declines in this age group between 2003 and 2014.

These top states weren’t alone in seeing declines. Montana saw a decline of nearly 33%, Massachusetts saw a decline of nearly 25%. Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri, Hawaii, North Dakota, and many other states also saw moderate to slight declines.

Adults

Four out of the top five states for adult marijuana use were – not surprisingly – states with legalized recreational pot. Maine is also among in the top five. Topping the list is the District of Columbia. The list looks like this:

  • District of Columbia 17.69%
  • Colorado 16.8%
  • Alaska 16.7%
  • Maine 16.68%
  • Oregon 16.6%
  • Washington 16.23%

But a comparative look at 2003 and 2014 reveals the true situation in this age group: a marked increase in marijuana use over this decade. Here’s the current numbers compared with the numbers in 2003.                                

                                                        2003           2014           Increase

  • District of Columbia     10.68%      17.69%      65.6%
  • Colorado                           10.73%      16.8%         56.6%
  • Alaska                                 12.46%      16.7%        34%
  • Maine                                  7.8%           16.68%     113.8%
  • Oregon                               9.47%        16.6%         75.3%
  • Washington                      9.05%        16.23%      79.3%

You can see that in Maine, marijuana use among adults more than doubled in this eleven years. In Washington, use increased more than 79% and in Oregon, use increased more than 75%.

Harmful or Harmless?

Although pro-pot lobbyists would have you believe otherwise, there’s no shortage of studies showing effects like cloudy thinking, loss of motivation, psychotic episodes, panic attacks, changes to brain tissue and addiction resulting from marijuana use. Here are just a few recent articles on this subject.

Marijuana use associated with increased problems with alcohol:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/if-you-smoke-pot-and-drink-this-study-suggests-a-real-risk/2016/02/29/432299ca-dbf5-11e5-81ae-7491b9b9e7df_story.html

Marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness when driving:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-releases-2-impaired-driving-studies-02-2015

Marijuana increases risk of academic problems:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/07/marijuana-academic-problems/2399693/

Emergency room visits increase as marijuana’s potency increases:

http://sam-vt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Marijuana-Potency-Effects.pdf

One wonders if those Americans who approved medical or recreational use of marijuana intended for these changes to follow.

Whatever path America takes regarding marijuana use, it’s certain that some people will become addicted to the drug and need help getting sober again. The Narconon program has a fifty year track record of helping the addicted back to a productive, enjoyable life without drugs. Some people simply can’t stop on their own. We can help – call us to learn more: 1-800-775-8750.