Daily Marijuana Use Surpasses Daily Alcohol Consumption in the United States

The number of Americans using marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis has exceeded the number of those consuming alcohol with the same frequency, according to a recent analysis of national survey data. 

The study, published in the journal Addiction, reveals that in 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily, compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers.

Conducted by Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, the research highlights the increasing prevalence of intensive marijuana use over the past four decades. 

While alcohol remains more widely consumed overall, the study marks the first time that daily or near-daily marijuana use has surpassed drinking at this level. Caulkins noted that approximately 40% of current cannabis users engage in daily or near-daily use, a pattern more commonly associated with tobacco consumption than typical alcohol use. 

Via Addiction

The study is based on information collected through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a federally supported research initiative that was formerly referred to as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. This survey has been carried out yearly since 1990, with four additional iterations conducted in 1979, 1982, 1985, and 1988, before the annual schedule was established.

The per capita rate of reporting daily or near-daily marijuana use has increased 15-fold from 1992 to 2022. Caulkins acknowledged that growing public acceptance of marijuana may have contributed to increased reporting.

“Of particular note, willingness to self-report may have increased as cannabis became normalized, so changes in actual use may be less pronounced than changes in reported use,” he said in the study. “On the other hand, cannabis product variety exploded after state-legalization.”

Recreational marijuana, as of April 2024 according to the Pew Research Center, is legal in 24 states or nearly 50% of the United States, as well as in Washington DC, the country’s capital.

A recreational marijuana initiative is also up for vote in Florida in November, while the Biden Administration has also moved to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug, to acknowledge its medical uses and reduce the regulatory barriers that have hindered research into its potential benefits.

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