Cannabis Consumption Has Increased, but Not Because of Legalization

Published on September 13, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Glass Jar containing Marijuana on White Background

Adult cannabis consumption in the United States has been increasing since 2005, but a new study says that increased use does not appear to be due to the legalization of cannabis.

According to the report, published by William Kerr and the Public Health Institute, cannabis consumption among American men has increased to 14.7% since the turn of the millennium. Going back a little further and looking at the years from 1984 to 2015, Kerr found that cannabis consumption among women doubled from 5.5% to 10.6%.

Since 2015, 12.9% of all adults report that they regularly consume marijuana. That’s up from 6.7% ten years earlier.

Since 2012, nine states have legalized recreational cannabis. Nationwide, 30 states have legalized medical marijuana. According to the new study, the ability to purchase cannabis legally in some states is not the reason for the increase among adults.

2017 cannabis jobs count: Legal marijuana supports 149,304 Americans

“Results …did not show significant increases in use related to medicinal marijuana legislation,” Kerr said in a statement. “It appears that the passage of these policies reflects changing attitudes toward marijuana use, rather than the other way around.”

The study also found that people aged 50-59 have been consuming a whole lot more cannabis. Since 2005, men in that age group have seen a 2,220% increase in consumption, from .5% to 11.6%, while women have seen a 7,200% increase, from 0.1% to 7.3%.

The increase of cannabis consumption by people aged 50-59 shouldn’t be a total surprise, as the bulk of the Baby Boom generation–who are far more experienced and comfortable with cannabis than their elders–moved into that age cohort during the years studied.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
View Gage Peake's articles
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