Daily marijuana use now more common than daily drinking: Analysis

May 22, 2024

A growing portion of Americans are reporting daily and near-daily marijuana use, in numbers now higher than the share of daily and near-daily alcohol drinkers, according to a new analysis.

About 17.7 million people in 2022 recorded daily or nearly daily use of marijuana, compared to the 14.7 million who reported the same habits for alcohol, marking the first time in the past thirty years daily marijuana use exceeded alcohol use, according to an analysis published Wednesday that looks at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“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,” the study’s author, Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Associated Press.

Analysts noted “far more” people drink alcohol than use marijuana, though high-frequency drinking is less common, with the median drinker in 2022 reporting drinking on four to five days in the past month compared to the 15-16 average days reported among cannabis users.

From 1992 to 2022, there was a 15-fold increase in the rate of daily or near daily use marijuana use, the analysis found.

The trend correlates with a change in public policy, the analysis noted, as more states legalized medical or recreational marijuana in recent years.

Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana more than a decade ago in 2012, alongside Colorado.

While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the Biden administration last week took a major step towards rescheduling the drug to a less restrictive Schedule III designation. This would remove marijuana from being classified in the same category as heroin or LSD.

Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told the AP other research suggests high-frequency cannabis users are more likely to become addicted to the substance. He was not involved in the study.

“High frequency use also increases the risk of developing cannabis-associated psychosis,” a severe condition in which a person loses touch with reality, he told the news wire.