Pot becoming widely accepted in U.S.

In the last ten years, marijuana use among American adults has doubled. According to surveys, it has risen to almost 10 percent, or more than 22 million mostly recreational users. Researchers say this trend reflects increasingly tolerant views about the drug. Other studies have shown more adults think marijuana should be legalized. There are now four states which permit recreational use of marijuana: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

The study was from a comparison of health surveys from 2001-02 and 2012-13 sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The study involved almost 80,000 adults 18 and older who were interviewed about various health-related behaviors. The results showed that almost one in three people who were reportedly using marijuana showed signs of marijuana dependence or abuse. This is a slight reduction compared to ten years ago. The results were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study participants were asked whether they had used marijuana in the past year, and about signs of abuse. Those include trying but unable to reduce heavy use, and continued use despite knowing it may be damaging health or causing depression or anxiety. This is a problem affecting about 6.8 million adults. Use increased among all ages but was most common in adults 18 to 29.

Marijuana use was higher among teenagers. About 23 percent of high school students had used the drug in the past month in 2013. However, research shows that teen use has been somewhat stagnant during the past decade.  

The results likely reflect mostly recreational use because most states didn’t have medical-marijuana laws during the years the surveys took place. The results show that people can use marijuana without harms, but there are risks. More research is needed to determine the causes of problematic use.