Marijuana Use Has Doubled — But Who Smokes It Most?

Pass the joint, teens and young adults: You are not the only ones using significantly more marijuana these days.

Pass the joint, teens and young adults: Middle-aged and older people are using significantly more marijuana these days.

That’s among the findings of a study published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Medical Association.

For the study, researchers compared the results of face-to-face interview surveys of more than 36,000 adults conducted in 2012-2013 with the results of similar surveys conducted in 2001-2002.

Researchers found that reports of marijuana use have more than doubled over the past decade. In the later survey, 9.5 percent of participants said they had used marijuana in the prior year — up from 4.1 percent a decade earlier.

While “significant” increases in pot use were seen in all population subgroups, however, the increases were “particularly notable” for certain subgroups:

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • People in the South
  • Middle-aged people (age 45 to 64)
  • Older people (age 65 and older)

The increases were steepest among:

  • Middle-aged people, among whom the percentage of people who said they had used in the prior year increased more than three-fold, from 1.6 percent to 5.9 percent.
  • Older adults, among whom the percentage increased more than 30-fold, from 0.04 percent to 1.3 percent.

Among all adults who use marijuana, the prevalence of what psychiatrists call a marijuana-use disorder (loosely described as “abuse” or “dependence” in the study) also increased.

The study found that of the 9.52 percent of U.S. adults who used marijuana in the past year, nearly 3 in 10 — or approximately 6.8 million Americans — had a diagnosis of marijuana-use disorder..

Researchers note that the increased prevalence of such disorders can be explained by the increased number of marijuana users in the United States.

Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 23 states and for recreational use in four states.

Are you surprised by the increase in pot use in the U.S., especially among older people? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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