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More people consume cannabis than drink alcohol daily, study finds

A man smokes marijuana Associated Press/Photo by Ted Shaffrey, file

More people consume cannabis than drink alcohol daily, study finds

A study published in the medical journal Addiction on Wednesday found that in 2022, more Americans used cannabis products daily than consumed alcohol. The study surveyed Americans’ use of cannabis from 1979 to 2022 and compared it with alcohol use during the same period.

What sort of big-picture changes did the study show? In 1992, 10 times as many Americans consumed alcohol daily or near-daily than consumed cannabis products. But between 1992 and 2022, the per-capita rate of daily or near-daily marijuana use increased 15-fold. More people are still consuming alcohol than are consuming marijuana, but many of those consuming alcohol aren’t doing so daily, the study reported.

What did this growth look like? From 1979 to 1992, marijuana use largely decreased. In 1992, marijuana use was at its lowest point, according to the survey. Those results came at the end of more than a decade of conservative drug policies in the United States.

Marijuana use then ticked up over the next decade before it largely plateaued during the early 21st century. In 2008, after the Obama administration said it wouldn’t interfere with state-level legalizations of marijuana, the number of pot users began to increase substantially. From 2008 to 2022, the per-capita number of Americans who reported using marijuana sometime in the previous year increased by roughly 120 percent, and the frequency with which Americans used it increased by nearly 220 percent.

What does this all mean? The study concluded that drug use often paralleled U.S. policies toward that drug. The more legal a drug became, the more people used it. The less legal it became, the less people used it. The study’s author noted that many countries are reconsidering their policy positions on marijuana. As countries like Germany move to decriminalize the drug, states and provinces such as Oregon and Canada’s British Columbia have rolled back drug decriminalization measures.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift from earlier this week about how Canada’s legalization of edibles has increased the number of hospital visits involving cannabis poisoning.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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