The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published state-level data from it’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health this month. The data examines marijuana use in each state from the last two years.
In a state-by-state comparison of marijuana use, Rhode Island topped the chart with 14.8 percent of residents age 12 and older consuming the substance monthly. A number of states that have recently passed legislation to legalize the drug for adults over 21 were also near the top of the list: Oregon, Washington, D.C., Washington state, Colorado, and Alaska all rounded out the top 6.
Rhode Island, which at the moment has the highest monthly usage rate in the nation, legalized medical marijuana in 2006 and is slowly creeping toward legalization.
Percent Reporting Monthly Marijuana Use (12+)
#1 Rhode Island
#4 Washington DC
At the other end of the spectrum, residents in Kansas, Alabama, South Dakota, and Mississippi were the least likely to use marijuana at 4.41 percent, 4.95 percent, 5.03 percent, and 5.1 percent, respectively.
Peculiarly, the data was collected prior to the implementation of each state’s new legalization policy, meaning the higher rates of monthly marijuana use in those states — at least in the short term — are likely to continue.
Meanwhile, marijuana use among teens (ages 12-17) in states that have passed legalization measures hasn’t been statistically significant. In fact, the national use rate among teens has remained largely stagnant since 2003. The biggest bump, however, has been in adults 26 and older, according to the Washington Post:
“So on some level, what’s happening in Colorado and Washington is exactly what you’d expect, and probably hope for, if you’re a legalization proponent: increased use among the adults who can legally do so, but little change in use rates among teens.”
In a little over a decade, national attitudes on marijuana use have changed dramatically. In 2003, only about 33 percent of Americans supported marijuana legalization. Yet in 2014, Gallup polling found “majorities interviewed in 2013 and 2014 support [marijuana] legalization.”
States like Colorado and Oregon that have legalized marijuana for recreational use will be closely watched following the establishment of state-legal marketplaces. Whether or not teen use will be impacted by corner store pot shops has yet to be realized, but the data points to one thing: marijuana legalization has entered the mainstream.