January 29, 2024 3 min read

Cannabis use, once a clandestine experience, is shifting towards a more open political and social landscape. This article delves into comprehensive statistics and trends, shedding light on the prevalence, public opinion, and the impact of legalization. 

Join us as we navigate through the intricate landscape of marijuana consumption, examining state-specific cannabis usage statistics and societal perspectives. This exploration aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the evolving dynamics surrounding cannabis in the U.S.

Let’s get started:

Table of Contents
Cannabis Prevelance in the US
Highest Marijuana Use by State
Popularity and Cannabis Usage Trends
Perceptions and Social Acceptance
Youth and Marijuana Use
Legalization and Impact
Crime and Arrests
Resources

Cannabis Prevalence in the U.S

  • In 2019, 18% of Americans (48.2 million people) used marijuana at least once. (CDC)
  • As of 2023, half of Americans (50%) have tried marijuana, a new high point according to Gallup.
  • Approximately 17% of Americans say they "smoke marijuana," also a new high for Gallup.
  • One in three women over 21 (37%) in the U.S. consume cannabis, with therapeutic reasons being the primary motivation.
  • 55 million American adults (16.9%) currently use marijuana. (NCDAS)

Highest Marijuana Use by State (2021):

According to Statista, the following reflects the percentage of each state’s population that used cannabis regularly in 2021:

  • District of Columbia has the highest current marijuana use, with 33.29% of adults reporting use within the past year. 
  • Vermontfollows closely with 32.03%, while Oregonand Alaskahave percentages exceeding 27%.
  • Notable states with high marijuana use include Massachusetts(26.86%), Washington(26.76%), and Colorado(25.41%). 
  • California, despite its early legalization, stands at 21.9% usage.
  • Marijuana use shows variations across states, with Wyoming(18.15%) and Georgia(18.12%) among the states with lower usage.

Percentage of U.S. adults that have used cannabis within the past year in 2021, by state. (Source: Statista)


State

Percentage

District of Columbia

33.29%

Oregon

29.84%

Alaska

27.98%

Massachusetts

26.86%

Washington

26.76%

Maine

25.94%

Michigan

25.78%

Nevada

25.71%

Oklahoma

25.46%

Colorado

25.41%

Rhode Island

25.02%

New Mexico

23.6%

Arizona

22.92%

Montana

22.44%

New York

21.96%

Illinois

21.92%

California

21.9%

Connecticut

20.87%

Ohio

20.5%

Iowa

20.26%

Kansas

20.13%

Maryland

19.93%

Delaware

19.87%

Louisiana

19.76%

Indiana

19.64%

Missouri

19.45%

Minnesota

19.29%

New Hampshire

19.18%

Virginia

18.87%

Pennsylvania

18.26%

Wyoming

18.15%

Georgia

18.12%

West Virginia

17.18%

New Jersey

17.16%

North Dakota

17.12%

Wisconsin

17.09%

Tennessee

17.08%

South Carolina

16.27%

Arkansas

16.26%

Mississippi

16.12%

Idaho

16.09%

Kentucky

15.8%

Florida

15.48%

Hawaii

15.38%

Nebraska

15.01%

Utah

14.35%

North Carolina

14.32%

South Dakota

14.3%

Texas

13.32%

Alabama

13.18%



Popularity and Cannabis Usage Trends

  • Around 78 million Americans claim to have used marijuana at some point. 
  • 35 million Americans use marijuana monthly, surpassing active tobacco smokers by 50.68%. 
  • Millennials capture nearly half (46.2%) of every dollar spent on cannabis, while Gen Z is the fastest-growing user group.  (Headset)
  • In general, younger consumers, (including Gen Z and Millennials) constitute 62.8% of all U.S. cannabis sales, with 70.8% of Vapor Pen sales. (Headset)
  • Pre-rolls, the third-largest product category in the U.S., have seen a significant surge in popularity, with a 13.4% increase in sales in the first eight months of 2023.  (Headset)
  • 21% of participants in Dry January are replacing alcohol with cannabis and CBD, with the largest demographic being 21-24-year-olds (34%). (CivicScience)
  • A Clinical Therapeutics study reveals that 91% of military veterans using medical cannabis report an improvement in their quality of life.
  • Medicinal cannabis is widely seen as a harm-reduction tool, reducing the use of pharmaceutical medications.

Perceptions and Social Acceptance:

  • 72% believe regular alcohol use is riskier than marijuana.
  • 76% believe marijuana is less harmful than tobacco.
  • 67% believe marijuana is less harmful than prescription painkillers.

Youth and Marijuana Use:

  • Almost 40%of high school students have tried marijuana. (CDC)
  • Early use increases the risk of mental illness. (CDC)
  • Daily marijuana use among teens surpasses daily cigarette use. (NIDA)
  • 19% of teen drivers reported driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • In 2022, 8.3%of 8th graders, 19.5% of 10th graders, and 30.7% of 12th graders reported cannabis use. (Monitoring the Future Survey)

Legalization & Impact:

  • Recreational marijuana is legal in 24 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
  • Medical marijuana is legal in 38 U.S. states, with Kentucky most recently joining the list in 2023.
  • The majority of U.S. adults survey in favor marijuana legalization, reaching 68% in 2021.(Statista)
  • Recreational marijuanais legal in 18 states (36%), medical marijuana in 36 states (72%). 
  • Legal marijuana industry: $4-$4.5 billion in 2016, $10 billion in 2017, predicted $50 billion by 2026.
  • Legal sales in 2021 amounted to $16.5 billion, with an expected increase to $37 billion by 2026. (Statista)

Crime and Arrests:

  • Marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests. (ACLU)
  • In 2016, more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all classified violent crimes. (The Washington Post)

Resources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/data-statistics.htm
  2. https://drugabusestatistics.org/marijuana-addiction/
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/264862/cannabis-consumption-in-the-us-since-2002/
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/04/19/11-charts-that-show-marijuana-has-truly-gone-mainstream/?utm_term=.d7f940870265 
  5. https://www.aclu.org/gallery/marijuana-arrests-numbers
  6. https://news.gallup.com/poll/509399/fully-half-americans-tried-marijuana.aspx
  7. https://monitoringthefuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/mtfoverview2022.pdf
  8. https://www.headset.io/industry-reports/pre-rolls-analyzing-category-performance-sales-trends
  9. https://civicscience.com/ninety-percent-of-gen-z-dry-january-participants-are-leaning-on-other-drinks-and-substances-to-fill-the-void/
  10. https://civicscience.com/ninety-percent-of-gen-z-dry-january-participants-are-leaning-on-other-drinks-and-substances-to-fill-the-void/

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