As more restrictions on marijuana are being lifted, a shift in the plant’s popularity is being noted across the nation.
The National Survey On Drug Use and Health released a study last week showing that in 2016, only 6.5 percent of the nation’s 12-to 17-year-olds used marijuana. This is the lowest level of marijuana use in teenagers in two decades the last time use was this low was in 1994.
Because their brains are still developing, public health experts are inclined to worry more about adolescent drug users than adults. However, this survey shows a statistically significant drop of teen use since 2014, when Colorado and Washington state opened the first recreational marijuana shops in the nation.
The marijuana trend defies the warnings of those who oppose marijuana legalization those who have long predicted that loosening restrictions on marijuana would “send the wrong message” to teens and increase teen drug use.
On the other hand, the federal data is showing that adult marijuana use is consistently rising. 20.8 percent of American’s between 18 and 25 and 14.5 percent of American’s 26 to 34 consumed marijuana, at least monthly. While these numbers had been rising well before the push for legalization, according to the data, this is the highest use has been since 1985.
As the reputation of marijuana users transform, more and more Americans may be reaching for a joint rather than a beer. In 2016, there was a slight drop in the percentage of adults ages 18 and older who drank alcohol; Last year only 55 percent of adults reported of drinking alcohol, compared to 56 percent in 2015. While small, that drop is has statistical importance, giving some credit to the notion that some people may be substituting marijuana for alcohol.
As more states continue the push for the legalization of recreational marijuana we may continue to see a larger correlation between the rise of marijuana users and the decrease of alcohol users. California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all voted in favor for recreational legalization of the plant, in the 2016 election, and it is likely more states will soon join.
According to an August 2017 Quinnipiac poll, over 60 percent of Americans, nationwide, say marijuana use should be recreationally legal.