Near-Daily Pot Use Has Tripled Since 1990s, Says Study

By Victoria Kim 08/18/16

The study also found that frequent pot users were more likely to lack a high school diploma and to earn a lower income. 

Near-Daily Pot Use Has Tripled Since 1990s, Says Study

According to a new study that examined a decade’s worth of drug use data, more people are using pot more often—some of them spending a quarter of their income on cannabis.

The study, published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Drug Issues, analyzed federal surveys on drug use in the U.S. from 2002 to 2013. The researchers, assistant policy analyst Steven Davenport of the RAND Corporation and Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University, looked at the data and concluded that “there really is no average user.” But though they could not characterize the typical pot user, they were able to confirm that the average user consumes more pot today than they would have 20 years ago, regardless of one's age.

"It's pretty clear that the average pot smoker—however you want to define 'average'—isn't somebody who's using on weekends exclusively," Davenport told Vice. "Use is just kinda more frequent than that."

Frequent use has tripled, especially among certain demographics, say the researchers. "Daily or near-daily users are now one-third of active users," Davenport told Vice. The number of people who use pot daily or almost daily increased from one in nine in the early 1990s to one in three in 2013. 

The data showed that frequent pot users were more likely to lack a high school diploma and to earn a lower income. The study found that adults who did not graduate high school accounted for 19% of all cannabis use in 2012 and 2013. Compare that with 13% of the total U.S. adult population. 

In addition, individuals earning a household income of less than $20,000 accounted for 29% of all cannabis use. Given this statistic, it's not surprising that a good number of users end up spending one quarter of their income on pot—these people accounted for 15% of all cannabis use, according to the study.

"Consumption is highly concentrated among the smaller number of daily and near-daily users, and they tend to be less educated, less affluent, and less in control of their use," Caulkins told the Washington Post.

The researchers noted that the time period examined in the study was before legalization for recreational use was first implemented in Colorado and Washington, where voters approved legal pot in 2012. So their research cannot provide any insights pertaining to that. 

They wrote: "Our results can in no way be interpreted as evidence toward the successes or failures of marijuana legalization or even medical marijuana laws." 

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr