1 in 7 Americans Used Pot Last Year
According to a recent poll of 16,280 adults, almost 15% of Americans have admitted to using pot last year.
The poll, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, revealed that in 2017, the number of cannabis-consuming Americans spiked up from 13% in 2016. But in states where cannabis is legal recreationally, the rate of consumers went up as much as 20% although it was only 12% in states where cannabis is still illegal.
The good old fashioned way of smoking pot seems to still be the most popular way of consuming it, as 55% of people said that they consumed cannabis through this method. The data varied according to the law, as it should be noted that the respondents who lived in states where cannabis is legal are experimenting with more varieties when it comes to consumption.
The researchers also found that people are more likely to consume cannabis via vaping or edibles if they live in a state where recreational use is legal. They also found that 6% consume edibles, 4.7% vape, 1.9% reported to using concentrates while 1.9% said they use topicals.
“There are increasingly novel forms of marijuana available and the risks of these products to health are unknown,” says Dr. Salomeh Keyhani of the University of California, San Francisco; one of the study’s authors. “THC (the psychoactive component) is very high in some forms of marijuana, the concentrates, for example,” she explains. “We don’t understand the impact of products with high THC.”
Keyhani says that the changing legal landscape may be a cause for concern. “It seems like the current regulatory structure is not keeping pace with commercialization,” Keyhani says. “There is commercialization without uniform standards on the types of products that can be sold or marketed to the public.”
The data also revealed that younger people were more likely to consume cannabis, and it showed that those aged between 18 to 34 consumed the most cannabis of all. Additionally, candies, baked goods, and pastries were the most popular forms of edibles among US adults.
But it seems that Keyhani’s concern about the different levels of THC is echoed by others in the medical community. Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said: “Historically, the downsides of marijuana have been minimized…. Its use has been considered safe and without risks and that is not necessarily the case.”
“For example, 10 percent of adult users become addicted, while about 17 percent of adolescent users do. Those are not insignificant numbers when you consider that the overall numbers are increasing.”
Lynch says that the most worrisome aspect of all are the shockingly high concentrations of THC found in oils and edibles. “When it’s more concentrated or more highly potent, you see side effects like agitation,” Lynch says. “There’s a potential for anxiety and for psychotic effects.” He believes that while cannabis is known to treat seizures, potent cannabis can actually induce them.
Lynch also voiced his concern about underage cannabis consumption. “Early use is associated with more negative effects on brain and cognitive development,” he says. He recommends that more research be done about cannabis and its potency. “In states like Pennsylvania, where medical marijuana is illegal, it’s tightly regulated in terms of concentrations,” he says. “So what’s on the label out to be correct.”
“As for risks and benefits, that’s a ‘moving target’,” he says.
Meanwhile, another survey released late last month shows that most Americans want cannabis to be legal. The Harris Insight and Analytics poll revealed that 85% of Americans think that cannabis “should be legalized for medical use” and 57% of the respondents recommend its regulation for adults aged 21 and up.
The results from the national survey data revealed that 68% of younger respondents aged 18 to 44 believe that cannabis should be legal while 57% believe that legalizing cannabis would “help alleviate the opioid crisis.” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armetano, who commissioned the survey, says: “Voters believe that ending American’s failed marijuana prohibition laws is a common-sense issue, not a partisan one.”
“It’s time for their elected officials to take a similar posture, and to move expeditiously to amend federal law in a manner that comports with public and scientific consensus, as well as with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status,” Armetano says.
The Harris data isn’t surprising considering that other surveys revealed the same sentiments from the majority of American adults.