Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2016
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) - Marijuana use is becoming more accepted among U.S. 
adults as states loosen pot laws, new national survey data shows.

More are using marijuana, using it more often and far fewer think 
it's risky, the government survey found.

That's understandable, experts say, as dozens of states now allow 
medical marijuana and four states have recently legalized pot for 
recreational use.

More than a half million U.S. adults participated in the survey over 
a dozen years, and the responses show a shift in attitude. Only a 
third of adults in 2014 said they thought weekly marijuana use was 
dangerous, down from half of adults in 2002.

That runs counter to scientific research about pot, said Dr. Wilson 
Compton, lead author of the study published online Wednesday by the 
journal Lancet Psychiatry. "If anything, science has shown an 
increasing risk that we weren't as aware of years ago," said Compton, 
deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Other research has increasingly linked marijuana use to mental 
impairment, and early, heavy use by people with certain genes to 
increased risk of developing psychosis, he noted.

Some highlights of the report, which compared 2002 to 2014: About 1 
in 8 adults said they used marijuana in the past year, up from 1 in 
10. The number of marijuana users grew to about 32 million. Daily use 
doubled, to 3.5

percent or about 8.4 million U.S. adults Changes in marijuana use and 
perception began to really climb in 2006-2007. No increase was seen 
in reported marijuana use disorders, like impaired memory, difficulty 
thinking and withdrawal symptoms like cravings, sleeplessness and depression.

That's surprising since law enforcement officials say marijuana is 
more potent than in the past, wrote Australian researcher Wayne Hall 
in an editorial in the journal. More use should mean more reports of 
marijuana-related disorders. Another U.S. survey did find such an 
increase in recent years, Hall noted.

"I agree that this is a puzzle," and needs to be researched further, 
Compton said.

Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Twenty-five states 
and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws, and 
starting in 2014, Washington state and Colorado began allowing 
recreational sales. Alaska and Oregon now also allow sales without a 
doctor's note.

Hall said it's likely those changes will increase the use of 
marijuana and perhaps reports of disorders.

The study didn't report on kids, only those 18 and older. But 
research drawn from another large survey has shown marijuana use 
among high school students has been falling. Over two decades, it 
dropped from 25 percent to about 22 percent.

Why are fewer kids using pot at a time more and more adults are?

There could be a lag. Youths have said in surveys that it seemed to 
be getting harder in the last decade to get marijuana. But that may 
change as more states legalize the drug, more adults use it, and if 
teens get into less trouble if caught with the drug, experts said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom