Consistent, Persistent and Resistant: Marijuana Use in the United States

Executive Summary


Marijuana use in the United States remains consistent, persistent, and resistant to federal, state, and local efforts.

Overall Marijuana Use

Marijuana was used at least once in 2007 by 25.1 million, or 10.3% of the population, in 2007, a slight reduction over five years from a population estimate of 25.9 million (11%) in 2002.

During 2007 marijuana was used in the last month by 14.5 million, or 5.8% of the population, a slight decrease over six years from a population estimate of 14.6 million (6.2%) in 2002.

More accurate estimation techniques implemented in 2002 result in estimates for 2002 to 2006 that remain 20% greater than comparable estimates from 1997 to 2001.

Marijuana Use by Age

Despite modest reductions in teenage use, marijuana use by adults (age 18 and older) rival or exceed prevalence estimates for 1997 to 2001.

Population estimates for monthly use by adults age 18 to 20, 26 to 34, and 35 and older have increased from 2002 to 2007.

One in nine (12%) 14- and 15-year-olds used marijuana in 2007.

One in four (23.7%) 16- and 17-year-olds used marijuana in 2007.

Nearly one in three (30.3%) 18- to 20-year-olds used marijuana in 2007.

In 2007 almost nine out of ten (87%) of annual marijuana users were adults.

Marijuana Use by Race

Over seven out of ten (71%) of annual marijuana users are white. Blacks accounted for 14% of annual marijuana users and Hispanics accounted for 11%.

The prevalence of annual marijuana use by whites in 2006 was 10.5%, 12.2% of blacks, and 7.9% of Hispanics used marijuana annually the same year.

The prevalence of monthly use by whites in 2006 was 6.0%, 7.2% of blacks, and 4.5% of Hispanics used marijuana monthly in the same year.

While marijuana use by blacks is 16% to 17% greater than whites, this fails to account for why arrest rates for blacks are generally 200% greater than for whites.

Marijuana and Other Drug Use

Three out of five (58%) of annual marijuana users do not use other illegal drugs.

There were 35.7 million annual illicit drug users in the United States in 2007, 14.4% of the population. Individuals who only use marijuana account for 41% of all annual illicit drug users. While 10.5 million people used marijuana and at least one other illegal drug (29% of all illicit drug users), there were 10.6 million people (30%) who used illegal drugs but did not use marijuana.

There were 472,000 12- and 13-year-olds who did not use marijuana in 2006 but still used illegal drugs. Of this group 58% used inhalants and 45% of them used illegally obtained pain relief drugs.

There were 627,000 14- and 15-year-olds who did not use marijuana in 2006 but still used illegal drugs. Of this group 43% used inhalants and 54% used illegally obtained pain relief drugs.

According to 2006 data of the 12- and 13-year-olds who have not used marijuana but have used other illicit drugs, 33% have used alcohol and 24% have used tobacco. Of the 14- and 15-year-olds in this group, 47% have used alcohol and 31% have used tobacco. Of the 16- and 17-year-olds who have not used marijuana but have used illegal drugs, 57% have used alcohol and 39% have use tobacco.

Marijuana use by teenagers remains a serious problem. However, it is not the primary drug problem nor is it the primary cause of teenage drug problems. The use of powerful and dangerous drugs precedes marijuana use or even occurs in the absence of marijuana use, and the illegality of marijuana use also results in exposure of teens to far more dangerous substances.

 
 
 
  
 
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