Pubdate: Mon, 15 Aug 2016
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2016 New Haven Register


A massive study published this month in the Journal of Drug Issues 
found that the proportion of marijuana users who smoke daily has 
rapidly grown, and that many of those frequent users are poor and 
lack a high-school diploma.

Examining a decade of federal surveys of drug use conducted between 
2002 and 2013, study authors Steven Davenport and Jonathan Caulkins 
paint one of the clearest pictures yet of the demographics of current 
marijuana use in the U.S. They found that the profile of marijuana 
users is much closer to cigarette smokers than alcohol drinkers, and 
that a handful of users consume much of the marijuana used in the U.S.

"In the early 1990s only one in nine past-month (marijuana) users 
reported using daily or near-daily," Davenport and Caulkins write. 
"Now it is fully one in three. Daily or near-daily users now account 
for over two-thirds of self-reported days of use (68 percent)."

These usage patterns are similar to what's seen among tobacco users. 
"What's going on here is that over the last 20 years marijuana went 
from being used like alcohol to being used more like tobacco, in the 
sense of lots of people using it every day," Caulkins said in an email.

Adults with less than a high school education accounted for 19 
percent of all marijuana use in 2012 and 2013 (compared to 13 percent 
of the total adult population), according to the survey. This is 
similar to their 20 percent share of all cigarette use, but 
considerably higher than their 8 percent share of all alcohol use.

Similarly, Americans of all ages with a household income of less than 
$20,000 accounted for 29 percent of all marijuana use and 27 percent 
of all cigarette use, compared to only 13 percent of all alcohol use 
and 19 percent of the total adult population.

The concentration of use among poorer households means that many 
marijuana users are spending a high proportion of their income on 
their marijuana habit. Users who spend fully one quarter of their 
income on weed account for 15 percent of all marijuana use.

One interesting finding is that over the past 10 years as many states 
have liberalized their marijuana policies, marijuana arrests are down 
while marijuana purchases are up. This means that the risk of getting 
arrested for marijuana use has fallen sharply since 2002. That year, 
there was one marijuana arrest for every 550 marijuana purchases, 
according to Davenport and Caulkins. By 2013, there was one marijuana 
arrest for every 1,090 purchases.

"The criminal risk per marijuana transaction has fallen by half," 
they conclude. Much of that risk is still born by non-white marijuana users.

Davenport and Caulkins stress that since the study was conducted over 
a period preceding the opening of recreational marijuana markets in 
Colorado and Washington, it doesn't offer any evidence on the merits 
or lack thereof of legalization.

"Our results can in no way be interpreted as evidence toward the 
successes or failures of marijuana legalization or even medical 
marijuana laws," they write.

However, they say their research presents a number of things to 
consider as states like California, Arizona and Maine vote on 
marijuana legalization this fall.

"Most people who have used marijuana in the past year are in full 
control of their use, and are generally happy with that use," 
Caulkins said in an email. But, "consumption is highly concentrated 
among the smaller number of daily & near-daily users, and they tend 
to be less educated, less affluent, and less in control of their use."

By The Washington Post
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom