According to the recent Consumption Habits survey conducted by Gallup, an American analytics and advisory company, half of Americans have tried cannabis at some point in their lives, a behavior that has been steadily rising over the past quarter century.
Although this figure is nearly unchanged from the 49 and 48 percent ones from 2021 and 2022, it is statistically higher than the 45 percent in 2017 and 2019. Moreover, this year’s survey revealed that about one in six (17 percent) of the respondents claim to use cannabis regularly – a figure that has doubled since 2013.
Gallup’s previous investigations have shown that experimentation with cannabis increased sharply in the first decade after their initial survey in 1969. From 1969 to 1977, cannabis use has increased by 20 percent, from four to 24 percent.
By 1985, cannabis use rose by an additional nine points to 33 percent, and stalled at under 40 percent until 2015, when it increased to 44 percent.
Cannabis activity remained at about 44 percent until 2019, and further increased to 49 percent by 2021. During the same time period, there was also a significant increase in the U.S. population’s support for legalizing cannabis, from 12 percent in 1969 to 68 percent today.
Across all gender, age, and education groups, nearly half of Americans have experimented with cannabis. However, there is a certain degree of differentiation by political party, with 57 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents claiming they have tried it, versus only 39 percent of Republicans.
Regular use was highest among the younger demographics (18 to 34 years of age). At 29 percent, this group is over three times as likely as adults aged 55 and older (nine percent) to report current use. Among adults aged 35 to 54, regular use matches the national average (17 percent).
While similar percentages of men and women reported to use cannabis, adults without a college degree were twice as likely as college graduates to use it regularly. At the same time, Democrats (21 percent) were nearly twice as likely as Republicans (12 percent) to smoke cannabis on a regular basis, with independents’ use falling in between (17 percent).
The experts conducting the survey have also investigated Americans’ attitudes about the possible effects of cannabis on users.
While the majority showed low levels of concern for adult use – with 32 percent saying they are not too concerned and 23 percent not at all concerned – they were found much more likely to express concerns about the effect of cannabis on young adults and teens who are regular users.
About three in four respondents say they are very (40 percent) or somewhat concerned (35 percent). These attitudes may reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s warning that cannabis use may disproportionately affect young people, and trigger negative effects on their mental health and brain development.
Overall, the survey provides evidence that, as cannabis has become more available to Americans and legal in a growing number of states, use and experimentation have also increased.
Further research is needed to clarify this drug’s effects on the brain, cognition, and behavior of different demographics in order to provide more reliable guidelines for its safe use.
Cannabis use refers to the consumption of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plants, typically for medicinal, recreational, or spiritual purposes. The primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though there are many other compounds, like cannabidiol (CBD), that can have different effects on the body. Here’s a brief overview:
Many people use cannabis for its euphoric and relaxing effects. It can enhance sensory perception, elevate mood, and induce feelings of relaxation.
Cannabis has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain, nausea associated with chemotherapy, certain types of seizures, and more. CBD, a non-psychoactive compound, is particularly noted for its potential therapeutic benefits without inducing a “high.”
Some cultures and religions use cannabis as a sacrament to facilitate meditation or communion with the divine.
While many people use cannabis without adverse effects, it’s not without its risks. These can include impaired short-term memory, altered judgment, coordination problems, and potential for addiction. Long-term or heavy use can lead to changes in the brain that affect attention, memory, and learning.