December 22/29, 2015
Data from 2 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism surveys conducted a decade apart shows that the percentage of US adults who use marijuana doubled from 4.1% to 9.5% between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013 (Hasin DS et al. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858 [published online October 21, 2015]). During that same time span, the prevalence of adults in the United States who met the criteria for marijuana use disorder increased from 1.5% to 2.9%. The percentage of marijuana users categorized as having a marijuana use disorder, however, decreased from 35.6% of users in 2001-2002 to 30.6% of users in 2012-2013.
Julie A. Jacob, MA
Marijuana use in 2012-2013 was most prevalent among adults aged 18 to 29 years (21.2%), single adults (21%), Native American individuals (17.1%), and adults with incomes less than $20 000 per year (15.6%). Marijuana use among black and Hispanic adults during that 10-year period increased significantly, from 4.7% to 12.7% among black adults and from 3.3% to 8.4% among Hispanic adults. Usage also increased among women (2.6% to 6.9%), individuals residing in southern states (2.9% to 7.7%), and adults aged 45 to 64 years (1.6% to 5.9%) and 65 years and older (0.04% to 1.3%).
Twenty-three states have passed medical marijuana laws and 3 states have legalized recreational use, and the increase in the number of adults who reported using marijuana may reflect greater societal acceptance of the drug, noted Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The changing attitudes toward marijuana “could bring additional public health challenges related to addiction, drugged driving, and access to effective treatment,” said Volkow in a news release statement.
The researchers noted that the study results underscore the need to communicate balanced information on the risk of marijuana use disorder and harmful effects of marijuana use.