American adults under age 35 are far more likely to frequently use marijuana than those over age 65, a new study finds.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California San Francisco used data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey program, including over 380,000 respondents, to examine cannabis use trends.
Adults between ages 18 and 34 were four times as likely to use pot at a high frequency compared to seniors, and adults between ages 35 and 64 were twice as likely to use it compared to seniors.
In addition, the researchers found black adults, Native American adults, non-college graduates, and those living in states where recreational marijuana is legal were more likely to use the drug at high frequencies.
The study indicates marijuana’s increasing popularity with younger Americans and those with lower socioeconomic positions, suggesting that health screenings and education should be made increasingly available for these populations.
Adults under age 35 are four times as likely to frequently use marijuana than those over 65, while adults in the 35 to 64 age range are twice as likely, the researchers found
Adults living in states where recreational marijuana use is legal were almost three times more likely to frequently use the drug than adults in states where it’s illegal (file image)
In the last two decades, marijuana use has increased significantly in the U.S.
Between 2002 and 2019, the share of adults using this drug increased from 10 percent to 18 percent, according to data from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.
The share of adults using marijuana daily or almost daily rose from one percent to almost four percent.
Some studies suggest that frequent marijuana use may lead to adverse health outcomes, such as respiratory conditions, memory loss, poor educational outcomes and increased risk of some forms of cancer.
Marijuana use can also impact mental health treatments for patients with anxiety and depression.
A new study provides detailed findings on which U.S. communities are most likely to use marijuana – putting them at higher risk of these health outcomes.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California San Francisco used data from a CDC health survey to examine marijuana use trends for the study published on Tuesday in JAMA Network Open.
This anonymous CDC survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, added marijuana questions in 2016.
Questions included how often respondents use marijuana and how they consume it – through smoking, vaping, or other methods.
In total, the analysis utilized data from 387,000 adults who had responded to the CDC survey between 2016 and 2019.
Overall, 90 percent of the survey respondents didn’t use marijuana.
About 3.7 percent were infrequent users (one to five days a month) while 2.8 percent were frequent users (six to 29 days a month).
The researchers found younger adults were far more likely to be frequent or daily marijuana users compared to older adults.
Adults under age 35 were 4.26 times as likely to use the drug at high frequencies compared to seniors (over age 65).
Adults in the 35-to-64 age range were 2.33 times more likely to be high-frequency users compared to seniors.
Men were more likely to be frequent marijuana users compared to women, about 1.43 times as likely (file image)
Men were more likely to be frequent users compared to women – about 1.43 times as likely.
The researchers also found that black and Native American adults were more likely to frequently use marijuana than white adults at 1.48 times and 1.28 times more likely, respectively.
Meanwhile, Hispanic and Asian adults were less likely to be high-frequency marijuana users than white adults.
In addition, adults who only graduated high school or had some college experience were more likely to be high-frequency users than college graduates.
Survey respondents who lived in states where marijuana was legal were also more likely to be high-frequency users.
Respondents living in states with legal recreational marijuana were 2.8 times more likely to use the drug frequently.
‘Residents of US states with recreationally legal cannabis have higher exposure to cannabis advertising, media messages on benefits of cannabis, cannabis home delivery, and widespread dispensaries, which may perpetuate higher frequency of use,’ the researchers wrote.
According to the CDC survey data, smoking was the most popular way for Americans to consume marijuana, followed by vaping and edibles (file image)
Smoking was the most popular way to consume marijuana, the researchers found – followed by vaping and edibles.
High-frequency marijuana users were likely to have a history of smoking tobacco or using e-cigarettes.
Current tobacco smokers were 2.6 times more likely to be frequent marijuana users compared to never-smokers, and current e-cigarette users were 3.6 times more likely compared to never-e-cigarette users.
The study clearly indicates that younger adults are more likely to use marijuana during a ‘crucial time for career development and higher education,’ the researchers wrote.
In order to alleviate potential negative health impacts, education about and screenings for cannabis use disorder should be widely available for young adults, the researchers recommended.
Education and health screenings are also important for people of color and those of low socioeconomic status, the researchers said.
‘Individuals who engaged in daily use were disproportionately black or Native American and with lower socioeconomic status,’ they wrote.
This pattern aligns with advocacy efforts to decriminalize marijuana in minority communities.
The study may not be nationally representative, the researchers noted, as marijuana data was only available for 21 states.