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23 May, 2024 00:38

US has more daily pot smokers than alcohol drinkers

A new study has shown that marijuana has overtaken liquor in terms of the number of regular users
US has more daily pot smokers than alcohol drinkers

Marijuana use has become so mainstream in the US that the number of Americans who smoke the drug on a daily basis has surpassed the number who consume liquor with the same frequency, a new study has revealed.

An estimated 17.7 million Americans used cannabis daily or almost daily in 2022, exceeding the 14.7 million comparable alcohol drinkers, according to an analysis by Carnegie Mellon University. The report, which was published on Wednesday in the Addiction medical journal, was based on data from the US government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Daily marijuana use had never before exceeded daily liquor consumption, said Carnegie Mellon researcher Jonathan Caulkins, the study’s author. Alcohol is still more widely used, but not on a daily basis.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” the researcher said.

The surge in regular cannabis use has come amid increasing legalization of the drug across the US. Nearly half of US states have approved recreational marijuana use, starting with Washington and Colorado in 2012. Most other states have allowed medical use of the drug, while cannabis possession for personal use has been decriminalized in some other jurisdictions.

Prior to the wave of new marijuana laws, daily pot use reached a low point of less than 1 million Americans in 1992. Since then, per-capita rates of regular marijuana use have jumped 15-fold. Caulkins said the increase may stem partly from the fact that as public acceptance grows, more people are willing to admit that they use the drug regularly.

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has warned that cannabis use can cause breathing problems, like those related to smoking tobacco, as well as increased risk of heart attacks. The drug also has been linked to problems with child development, during and after pregnancy. Long-term pot smoking can also cause mental illnesses, such as paranoia and hallucinations, and it can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have claimed that addictive use of marijuana increases the risk of psychosis. “There is a lot of misinformation in the public sphere about cannabis and its effects on psychological health, with many assuming that this drug is safe to use with no side effects,” said David Gorelick, a University of Maryland psychiatry professor. He added that nearly half of people with cannabis addictions have another psychiatric condition.