You might not be surprised to find that more Americans are using marijuana. What you might be surprised to find is that is why Americans are using drugs more .
Is there a correlation between the two? Well that’s still up for debate. Similar studies conducted in Europe had different findings. In Amsterdam for example marijuana was decriminalized since a 1976 law permitting low-level possession passed. There hard drug use has been on a gradual decline. People in the Netherlands also tend to smoke far less marijuana than Americans.
About 8.4 percent of Americans, or roughly 22.2 million Americans ages 12 and older were current users of marijuana in 2014, up from 7.5 percent in 2013. The percentage of teens ages 12 to 17 who smoke, drink or use prescription narcotics nonmedically has fallen, HealthDay reports.
Overall, the use of illicit drugs – including marijuana – among Americans aged 12 and older increased from 9.4 percent in 2013 to 10.2 percent in 2014. This was especially driven by the increase in adult marijuana use, the report noted.
And that’s the kicker. Drug use is on the rise because marijuana use is on the rise. If we look at the bigger picture we really need to break it down a bit more.
Essentially 8.3 percent of American adults aged 26 or older were current users of illicit drugs. These figures are higher than figures found in 2003 and 2013 respectively, but again, marijuana is included in that picture.
About 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2014 were current users of illicit drugs, which represents 9.4 percent of adolescents. This number is consistent with figures found in 2003 and 2013. This number however is lower than figures found from 2002 to 2004:
About 7.7 million young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2014 were current users of illicit drugs. Again these numbers are consistent with figures found in 2014.
However according to the report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1.9 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 were current nonmedical users of pain relievers in 2014, lower than the 3.2 percent of teens who said they had used prescription pain relievers nonmedically in 2002.
Prior-month alcohol use among 12- to 17-year-olds dropped from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 11.5 percent last year. Rates of tobacco use fell from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 7 percent last year among this age group.
So while marijuana use seems to be on the rise, hard drug use has stabilized in some respects and declined in others.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.