August 18, 2016

Study Explores Evolution of U.S. Marijuana Market & Reveals Demographics of Current Users

A recent study in the Journal of Drug Issues by Steven Davenport of Pardee RAND Graduate School and Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use for changes in the marijuana market from 2002 to 2013, a time of marijuana policy liberalization in many parts of the U.S.

“In the early 1990s only one in nine past-month [marijuana] users reported using daily or near-daily. Now it is fully one in three. Daily or near-daily users now account for over two-thirds of self-reported days of use (68%),” stated Davenport and Caulkins in their study.

According to the study:

  • The national market has grown, especially in terms of the number of daily users;
  • Marijuana users remained economically “downscale” over this period and resemble cigarette users;
  • Distribution networks appear to be professionalizing, as fewer users obtain marijuana socially;
  • The typical purchase has gotten smaller by weight but not price paid, suggesting a trend of higher potencies;
  • Marijuana expenditures vary by user group; and
  • Respondents with medical marijuana recommendations differ from other users in systematic ways.

“What’s going on here is that over the last 20 years marijuana went from being used like alcohol to being used more like tobacco, in the sense of lots of people using it every day,” Caulkins said in an email to The Washington Post.

In the Washington Post’s coverage of the study, reporter Christopher Ingraham concluded, “The findings support the argument for legalization measures to be accompanied by public health protections — like treatment programs and public awareness campaigns educating people about the risks of overuse.”

This underscores the importance of prevention efforts in areas of legalization.

See Also: CADCA’s free online course, What Do We Know About Marijuana?

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