Marijuana Tops Alcohol: 17.7 Million Americans Choose Daily Use in Landmark Shift

May 26, 2024
1 min read
A variety of strains at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: My 420 Tours (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)
A variety of strains at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: My 420 Tours (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

A national data analysis spanning four decades has revealed a significant shift in substance use patterns in the United States. According to the Associated Press, for the first time, daily marijuana use has surpassed highly frequent alcohol consumption in 2022. Jonathan Caulkins, a researcher specializing in cannabis policy at Carnegie Mellon University and the author of the study, emphasized that while alcohol remains the preferred substance among consumers, marijuana consumption was higher last year. 

The study, published in the journal Addiction, is based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a reputed source of estimates on the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs in the US.  “The data come from survey self-reports, but the enormous changes in rates of self-reported cannabis use, particularly of daily or near-daily use, suggest that changes in actual use have been considerable,” said Caulkins. In 2022, approximately 17.7 million people used marijuana daily or nearly daily, compared to 14.7 million who consumed alcohol with similar frequency. Over the last 30 years, the per capita rate of daily marijuana use has increased fifteenfold.

This trend reflects changes in public policies. Most states now allow the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, although it remains illegal at the federal level. In November, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that allows recreational use of cannabis, and the federal government is moving forward to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

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Despite regulatory relaxations, there is concern about the implications of frequent marijuana use. “These trends mirror changes in policy, with declines during periods of greater restriction and growth during periods of policy liberalization,” explained Caulkins. He also noted that the number of daily users indicates that policy drove changes in use both in culture and attitudes. “But whichever way causal arrows point, cannabis use now appears to be on a fundamentally different scale than it was before legalization.”  

The findings invite broader conversations about substance use, public health, and the social impacts of evolving drug policies. With a significant portion of the population at risk, it is essential to weigh the benefits of legalized marijuana against its potential drawbacks. Ongoing policy and regulatory changes are efforts to address these complex issues constructively.

Tejal Somvanshi

Meet Tejal Somvanshi, a soulful wanderer and a staunch wellness advocate, who elegantly navigates through the enchanting domains of Fashion and Beauty with a natural panache. Her journey, vividly painted with hues from a vibrant past in the media production world, empowers her to carve out stories that slice through the cacophony, where brands morph into characters and marketing gimmicks evolve into intriguing plot twists. To Tejal, travel is not merely an activity; it unfolds as a chapter brimming with adventures and serendipitous tales, while health is not just a regimen but a steadfast companion in her everyday epic. In the realms of fashion and beauty, she discovers her muse, weaving a narrative where each style narrates a story, and every beauty trend sparks a dialogue. Tejal seamlessly melds the spontaneous spirit of the media industry with the eloquent prose of a storyteller, crafting tales as vibrant and dynamic as the industry she thrives in.

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