As the years go by, more and more Americans are sparking up—with, seemingly, no rise in negative consequences.
According to a report published (paywall) in The Lancet on Aug. 31, 8.4% of Americans admitted to using marijuana in some form in 2014—a significant increase from 2002, when only 6.2% did. Simultaneously, the percentage of Americans dependent on or abusing it actually decreased slightly, from 1.8% of users to 1.6%. These findings were based on an analysis of 12 years worth of National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, undertaken by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The most recent was released (pdf) last year.
The study analyzed close to 900,000 responses since 2002, and reflect specifically non-medical use. Dependency was determined using the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition: some kind of physical addiction, including building tolerance and experiencing withdrawal.
Despite the fact that several states have legalized various forms of marijuana use, fewer people are abusing it. However, as the Washington Post notes, this could be because the definition of abuse includes factors like problems with work, school, interpersonal relationships, and the law as a result of pot use. As more states relax their laws, users are less likely to be punished. It could also be that more individuals feel comfortable admitting they use weed recreationally. The Lancet authors speculate that fewer people in the US associate pot with “great risk” these days.