Pubdate: Tue, 09 Aug 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post


A new Gallup poll out Monday finds that the percentage of American 
adults who say they currently smoke marijuana has nearly doubled over 
the past three years.

In 2013, only 7 percent of adults said they were marijuana smokers. 
When Gallup asked again in July of this year, 13 percent admitted to 
current marijuana use. That works out to more than 33 million adult 
marijuana users in the U.S. If America's marijuana users resided in 
one state, it would be bigger than Texas and second only to 
California in population.

There are currently about 40 million cigarette smokers in the U.S., 
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given 
that cigarette use is in decline, marijuana use could become more 
prevalent than cigarette use in just a few years' time.

There are likely several factors driving these numbers. Since 2013, 
recreational marijuana markets opened in Colorado and Washington, and 
several other states voted to legalize marijuana in the fall 2014. 
It's likely that adults in those places are taking advantage of the 
new opportunities to indulge legally.

Part of the rise also may be the result of decreased social stigma 
surrounding marijuana use. National surveys show support for legal 
marijuana hovering in the 55 percent to 60 percent range. Certain 
legislators have called for restrictions on marijuana to be loosened 
at the federal level or to legalize it completely.

Recreational marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level and 
in most states.

Still, attitudes toward marijuana use have come a long way from the 
"this is your brain on drugs" era of the 1980s and '90s, when Ronald 
Reagan was calling marijuana "the most dangerous drug in the United States."

Much of this shift in attitudes could be because of lived experience. 
In the late 1960s, fewer than 5 percent of adults told Gallup they 
had ever smoked marijuana. Today that number is up to 43 percent.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom