Not only have American views and laws on marijuana drastically changed in recent years, but as you might suspect, so has the total number of Americans who use the drug, according to a new study. Hint: the number is way higher than it used to be (had to, sorry).
Research published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry reveals marijuana use among American adults has more than doubled over the past decade or so — from 4.1% in 2001-2002 to 9.5% in 2012-2013.
And all of those puffs of smoke aren't just coming from any one demographic -- marijuana use increased among all of the groups studied, but the findings suggest particularly significant increases among people who are middle-aged or older, women, blacks, Hispanics, and Southerners, according to a report by CBS News.
Additionally, the team of scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism behind the research found that as overall marijuana use increased, the number of people with marijuana abuse or dependence disorders increased, too.
"While not all marijuana users experience problems, nearly 3 of 10 marijuana users manifested a marijuana use disorder in 2012-2013," the researchers stated in the study's abstract. "Because the risk for marijuana use disorder did not increase among users, the increase in prevalence of marijuana use disorder is owing to an increase in prevalence of users in the US adult population."
As you might have noticed, the rise of weed in the US has coincided with public perception shifting in favor of the drug and law changes throughout the country. A majority of Americans supported legalizing marijuana in 2013, which was up from less than a third 11 years earlier, according to a report by The Washington Post. Now, recreational cannabis is legal in four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington -- and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, plus D.C., per the report.
However, Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University and lead author of the study, told WaPo it's not entirely clear why there's been such a massive increase in Mary Jane and that more research needs to be done. But, uh, who'd ever volunteer for that kind of research?
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and can't help but think the arguments against pot will continue to go up in smoke. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.