Check the Data: Growing Marijuana Use Not Due to Legalization

35 Million American Adults Currently Use Marijuana on a Monthly Basis

Over the last few years, the prevalence and use of marijuana in the U.S. has taken a sharp upward turn. According to a survey by Yahoo News and Marist College, 35 million American adults currently use marijuana on a monthly basis. That’s quite a jump from 2015, when according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health only 22 million Americans used marijuana monthly.

Your initial assumption might be that more people are using marijuana because it’s now legal. However, that’s not the case. A study in the Journal of Addiction found that the trend in increased use is more related to changing attitudes than changing laws.

“Medical and recreational marijuana policies did not have any significant association with increased marijuana use,” researchers wrote. “Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S.”

The study came to this conclusion after analyzing data from periodic National Alcohol Surveys and stacking the results on marijuana use against changes in state laws. They found that while twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have medical cannabis programs and eight have legal cannabis programs the change in use is less related to the policy changes than periodic effects. This means that researchers recognized societal factors, such as a decreasing disapproval of marijuana, as the main cause of increased consumption.

This shift toward approval of marijuana matches the results of the latest Yahoo News and Marist College survey. The survey found that 83 percent of Americans support medical marijuana, and 49 percent support recreational marijuana legalization, but that’s just the beginning.

Marijuana Legalization UseBeyond legalization, most Americans (56 percent) think smoking weed is “socially acceptable,” and others admitted that it would make no difference to them if they learned their doctor, clergyman, favorite athlete, favorite celebrity, or children’s school teacher used marijuana in their personal life, stated the Washington Post. And most users (95 percent) are fairly open about their consumption habits, sharing them with their significant others and close friends. Seventy-two percent have even told their parents and 60 percent have informed their children.

Marijuana Legalization UseSo, it makes sense that the trend toward marijuana use might have less to do with laws and more to do with people.  And if that’s the case, there’s no doubt that use will continue to rise as marijuana becomes more and more mainstream.

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