Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jul 2016
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2016 Austin American-Statesman
Note: Letters MUST be 150 words or less


Take a bow, San Francisco: The Bay Area is home to the highest 
concentration of marijuana smokers anywhere in the country, according 
to new data released Tuesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health 
Services Administration.

Every few years, SAMHSA combines data from the annual National 
Surveys on Drug Use and Health to derive estimates of monthly 
marijuana use among Amer-icans age 12 and older. The latest cut of 
that data, encom-passing the years 2012 to 2014, includes responses 
from about 204,000 people. That huge sample makes it possible to 
visualize marijuana use rates with a level of detail not possible 
with traditional surveys.

More than 15 percent of San Francisco residents age 12 and over use 
marijuana monthly or more often, the highest rate in the country, the 
survey found. By contrast, the lowest use rates are in the far south 
of Texas, where fewer than 4 percent use marijuana monthly.

The report finds that nationally, 7.7 percent of people 12 and older 
- - roughly 20.3 million Americans - use marijuana at least once a 
month. Broadly speaking, marijuana use rates are high-est in the West 
and lowest in the South.

"We continue to see relatively wide variation in marijuana use" at 
the sub-state level, said Art Hughes, a SAMHSA statistician and a 
lead author on the report. Overall marijuana usage rates were up by 
less than 1 percentage point over the period from 2010 to 2012.

Marijuana use rates have become a hot topic since Colorado 
established the first legal marijuana market in 2014, with several 
other states following suit.

Marijuana use in Colorado is relatively high, but it has been that 
way for a while.

"There are some states where we see rates on the high end even before 
legalization," Hughes said.

- -Washington Post
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