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Marijuana use more prevalent in legal weed states; 14 percent of U.S. adults used pot in 2017: Study

August 28, 2018

About 14 percent of adults in the United States used marijuana in 2017, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Based on a nationwide survey of 9,003 adults ages 18 and older, the study’s authors found that roughly one in seven respondents admitted to using marijuana during the previous year, mostly either by smoking the plant or consuming cannabis-infused edibles.

“Current federally sponsored surveys report the prevalence of use of smoked marijuana among the U.S. population,” the study’s authors wrote. “Despite legalization of recreational marijuana in some states and the development of a multibillion-dollar cannabis industry, national data on the prevalence of use of other forms of marijuana are not available.”

Of the 1,270 adults who admitted using marijuana in the last year, 1,063 said they had smoked the plant, 930 said they had ingested edibles and 420 said they had vaporized cannabis, the study’s authors wrote. Only 190 of the marijuana users said they had used concentrated cannabis products, while just 103 reported using infused topical products such as lotions and creams.

Roughly half of the respondents who said they used marijuana last year 622 out of 1,270 reported using multiple forms of the plant during the past year, and about 8.7 percent of over 9,000 people surveyed said they had used marijuana within the last 30 days, the study found.

Led by several doctors from the Northern California Institute for Research and Education and San Francisco VA Medical Center, the study also found marijuana use was more prevalent among respondents located in states that has passed laws legalizing the plant for recreational or medicinal purposes.

Twenty percent of respondents reported using marijuana in states where recreational marijuana is allowed, compared to 14.1 percent in medical marijuana states and 12 percent in the minority of states where the plant is prohibited.

“Given trends in legalization, annual epidemiologic data on the different forms of use will be necessary to inform public policy,” the study’s authors wrote. “Studying the health effects of marijuana will also require exposure assessment tools that capture different forms of use.”

Thirty states have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, including nine that have legalized recreational, or “adult use,” marijuana, despite the plant being categorized as a federally controlled substance.

The majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to the results of separate Quinnipiac University and Gallup polls recently within the last year. A report published in January by New Frontier Data, a cannabis industry analytics firm, predicted federally legalizing the plant could earn the government up to $132 billion in tax revenue by 2025.

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