Study: Daily Marijuana Use Outpaces Daily Drinking in US for First Time

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Study: Daily Marijuana Use Outpaces Daily Drinking in US for First Time  daily alcohol consumption

Daily or near-daily use of marijuana has surpassed the rate of daily alcohol consumption for the first time in American history, a study published on Wednesday has found, reflecting a change in consumption patterns more than 40 years in the making.

According to the multi-year study published in the health journal Addiction, self-reported daily marijuana use jumped by 269 percent between 2008 and 2022, while daily drinking fell by 7 percent. In 2022, 17.7 million people reported smoking weed on an almost daily basis, compared to 14.7 million drinkers. During that year, the median drinker reported having a drink on 4-5 days in the previous month; marijuana users reported 15-16 days of smoking for the same time period.

Study author Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, noted in his findings that alcohol is still by far the most widely-used substance in the US, but among high-frequency users, marijuana is now the clear favorite.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” Caulkins said. The results of the study were based on 27 studies conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use, which has analyzed alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana consumption patterns since 1979.

While Caulkins attributes the uptick in marijuana consumption in part to destigmatization of the drug since the all-time low of 1992, shifting legal attitudes towards it also contributed. “Nonetheless, the enormous changes in rates of self-reported cannabis use, particularly of [daily, near daily] use, suggest that changes in actual use have been considerable,” Caulkins wrote.

Most states have legalized medical or recreational use of cannabis in some form, and while it remains illegal at the federal level, the Biden administration has made recent strides toward reclassifying it as a Schedule III drug.

While research about the long-term health effects of marijuana consumption is somewhat inconclusive, most health experts agree that high-frequency use of the drug can lead to addiction and, in rare cases, cannabis-associated psychosis that can cause lingering mental health problems.