7,000 A Day Try Cannabis For The First Time
Marijuana use in the U.S. has increased among adults but has dropped among teenagers, according to new findings published Wednesday in The Lancet Psychiatry.
The data, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also show that while daily use of marijuana has increased among adults, instances of supposed marijuana “dependence or abuse” are much lower.
The study looked at marijuana use from 2002 to 2014 and culled data from annual surveys of 884,742 people.
The prevalence of people smoking marijuana during one month in 2014 was 8.4 percent of those surveyed, compared to 2002 at 6.2 percent. That’s an increase of more than one-third. During that same time period, the percentage of people who believed pot was harmful dropped from about 50 to 33 percent.
Two and a half million Americans 12 or older tried pot for the first time in 2014, the most recent year the CDC studied, reports Olga Khaza at The Atlantic. That means about 7,000 Americans a day lost their weed virginity, 1,000 more a day than in 2002.
The study found that people ages 12 to 17 are smoking less marijuana in 2014 compared to 12 years ago. Nearly 16 percent of people ages 12 to 17 years old smoked marijuana within the past year in 2002, but that percentage fell to 13 percent in 2014, casting doubt on claims that relaxing the pot laws encourages more teenagers to smoke weed.
On the contrary, with the advent of legalization, some observers of the scene believe that the once-potent outlaw allure of cannabis may be fading among youth.
However, the percentage of people 18 to 25 years old using marijuana yearly increased from nearly 30 percent in 2002 to nearly 32 percent in 2014. Use rose from 7 percent to 10 percent for people 26 years and older.The CDC also found that people of all ages perceive lower risks from smoking marijuana in 2014 compared to 2002. This is due, at least in part, to the prevalence and easy availability of good, accurate, science-based information on cannabis.
About 2 percent of Americans used cannabis daily in the past month in 2002, but 3.5 percent used daily in 2014, according to the CDC. Again, though, teens didn’t follow this trend: Daily or near-daily use among 12-to-17 year olds fell from 2.4 percent in 2002 to 1.6 percent in 2014.
“Abuse and Dependency”? Oh, Please.
Which brings us to the unfortunate reality that the CDC still subscribes to an absurdly outdated “abuse and dependency” model of marijuana use. Amusingly enough, however, even by those antiquated yardsticks, cannabis “abuse and dependency” both fell while general use rose, once again showing that alarmist notions of an “increase in addiction” are nothing but rank silliness.Cannabis “dependence” and “abuse” are becoming less common even as more people use marijuana, even the CDC had to admit. Rates of use increased among every age group except for teenagers, who saw a non-significant decrease in use over the same period.
Declines in, er, “abuse and dependency” were greatest among teens, according to the CDC, with a 37 percent decrease, and young adults, with an 18 percent decrease over that period. Interestingly, the change in cannabis “abuse and dependency” among adults 26 and older wasn’t statistically meaningful, according to the agency, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.
“Dependence and abuse” were measured by “common criteria” set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) used by the American Psychiatric Association. For a little context, the Manual used to list homosexuality as a mental disorder. Here’s to more enlightened times! Would that tolerance soon include those who choose to include cannabis in their lives, as well.
Respondents were considered “dependent” on marijuana if they reported “health and emotional problems associated with [marijuana] use, unsuccessful attempts to reduce use, tolerance, withdrawal, reducing other activities to use [marijuana], spending a lot of time engaging in activities related to [marijuana] use, or using [marijuana] in greater quantities or for a longer time than intended,” according to the CDC.
By those criteria, of course, almost anyone who smokes pot could be considered “dependent” if the person doing the evaluation really disliked weed and/or the individual in question.
The tragedy of this is, many teenagers who “seek help” for cannabis “abuse and dependency” are forced to do so by the courts. And many or most of the rest were likely forced into treatment by concerned parents who have unfortunately bought into the new breed of “reefer madness” peddled by the likes of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).Almost all of these “people seeking treatment” for marijuana are FORCED to do so by court orders, under threat of jail, after having been busted for possessing small amounts of pot. Great use of public resources, eh? Just think about all those spaces in addiction recovery support groups that could have available for real addicts having problems with meth, crack, and heroin.
According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than a third of the 288,000 people entering “drug treatment for marijuana” hadn’t even smoked any pot in the 30 days prior to the admission. Now, that surely doesn’t sound much like they were addicted, now does it?In one bright spot, the study at least noted that abuse and dependency were relatively rare among cannabis users: only 11.9 percent of people who used marijuana in the past year met even one, never mind more than one, of these criteria. That number’s fallen by nearly 30 percent since 2002, when 16.7 percent of past-year marijuana users were absurdly considered “abusers” of the herb or “dependent” on it.
The agency found that as marijuana use becomes more common from state medical marijuana and decriminalization laws, “different patterns of use behavior might account for a substantial proportion of the increase in marijuana use” among adults 18 years and older.
“Normally, researchers expect increases in heavy marijuana use to lead to more marijuana abuse or dependency,” Post muses. “But the opposite seems to be happening here — abuse and dependency are falling as heavy use becomes more common. That represents a bit of a public health puzzle.”
Actually, it doesn’t, because cannabis isn’t addictive; its not a puzzle, and it ain’t rocket science. Additionally, since “trouble with the law” is one criteria for supposed “abuse,” it makes sense that fewer marijuana users run into trouble with the law when weed is legal.
Any serious and impartial study of the adverse effects of marijuana use almost immediately runs into one striking and unavoidable fact: It’s glaringly apparent that marijuana’s potential negative effects are minor when compared to those of legal drugs such as opiates (physically habit-forming and capable of causing overdose deaths), alcohol (same on both counts) and tobacco.