(Alexandria, Va., September 7, 2017) – Every day, 7,000 new people try marijuana for the first time — a figure far greater than trends seen in the early 2000s, according to the most comprehensive survey on drug use released today by the federal government.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found the number of daily or near-daily users of marijuana in 2016 doubled compared to the number of heavy users about a decade ago. Use rose significantly among age groups 12 and up, 18 and up, and 26 and up. Almost twice as many 12-17-year-olds are using pot as compared to cigarettes on a past-month basis. And among those 18 and over, there has been a significant jump in the percent of marijuana users who are unemployed as compared to 2015.
“Big Marijuana – just like Big Tobacco years ago – continues to glorify marijuana as a cure-all that can do little or no harm,” said Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former White House drug policy adviser. “If it wasn’t for marijuana, overall drug use in this country would be going down. Rising mental health issues, drugged driving crashes, and an increasingly stoned workforce won’t help us get ahead. We should put the brakes on marijuana legalization and start a national science-based marijuana awareness campaign similar to successful anti-tobacco campaigns.”
White House Office of National Drug Policy Acting Director Baum announced that NSDUH state-level data, which shows the gulf between use in states with legalized pot versus those with no legalization laws, is expected later this year and not included in this report. The last state estimate report showed Colorado is the #1 state in the country for youth marijuana use.
According to a recent report by SAM, the three states with the most established retail marijuana markets – Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – have seen negative public health and safety consequences, including increased marijuana use and car crashes related to marijuana.
“We shouldn’t incarcerate people for marijuana use, but legalization is promoting a commercial industry driving heavy pot use among young people. We need a smarter approach that focuses on prevention, awareness, and recovery,” said Sabet.
NSDUH also reported a non-significant reduction in marijuana use among 12-17 year-olds versus 2015 and a non-significant increase among 18-25 year-olds versus 2015. However, use is up significantly among young adults 18-25 compared with earlier years. Research has found that marijuana affects the developing brain negatively, and that most people’s brains develop well into their 20s.
SAM will be updating info about NSDUH as we receive the full report.