With the legalization of recreational marijuana use on the rise in the United States, new statistics have emerged that paint a portrait of America’s evolving relationship with the substance.
In a Yahoo News/Marist survey, studies showed that approximately 35 million Americans use marijuana on a monthly basis. At least 78 million surveyed reported having tried the substance at some point in their lives.
Altogether, 55 million residents reported using marijuana within the past year.
That figure amounts to more than the number of active tobacco smokers, which currently stands at 36.5 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Marijuana Use on the Rise
Recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states, in addition to the District of Columbia. Many other states have been positioned to vote on the matter in upcoming elections, though no matter the outcome, one thing is for certain: legal recreational marijuana use is on the rise.
According to the Marist survey, millennials have emerged as the largest demographic to engage in recreational marijuana use. Fifty-two percent of all individuals who reported marijuana use were in the millennial age group, further illuminating the increased levels of the substance’s social acceptability.
Changing Risks for the Younger Demographic
With individuals being exposed to marijuana at increasingly younger ages, new risks are developing. A new study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that 14 percent of pregnant teenagers smoke marijuana, likely leading to negative effects upon the unborn child.
Marijuana use in teens is also associated with negative effects of the developing brain. Even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the legal age to partake is 18. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has cautioned that the risks must be presented by parents early on, as the use of marijuana becomes more and more common among American families.
The Marist research claims that half of marijuana users are parents themselves.
Looking Toward the Future
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance in the United States. With legalization on the rise, the statistics surrounding marijuana use are at the forefront of national discussion.
Although the substance has been legalized in certain areas of the country, marijuana dependence remains a risk that millions are exposed to each year. The normalization of use, along with the use of other drugs, poses a more complex risk that must be monitored, particularly in the younger generation.
The AAP reminds us that marijuana is involved with a large number of traffic accidents, and that 9 percent of all users become addicted to the substance over time.
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