More Americans are smoking marijuana than ever before, a survey has found — after a top scientist warned the drug could harm brain development in young adults.
A Gallup poll found one in six Americans (16 percent) say they are now smoking cannabis, marking the first rise detected by the survey since 2016 — when one in eight confessed to the habit. Fourteen percent said they were eating edibles, the first time this category was included in the survey.
It also revealed half of Americans — 50 percent — believe cannabis is having a negative impact on society.
Cannabis use is likely being driven up by more and more states legalizing it for recreational use and stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only four — Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming — still fully outlaw the drug.
But Dr Nora Volkow, who leads the National Institute on Drug Abuse — part of the National Institutes of Health, warned last week that using it in your 20s can cause permanent damage to the brain. Her words came after separate research revealed a record four in ten 19 to 30-year-olds smoked cannabis at least once last year.
The gallup poll found a record one in six Americans (16 percent) are now using the drug regularly (yellow). It also found 48 percent have now tried it (red line), while one in fourteen are now eating it as edibles (blue dot). This was the first year they went over edibles
The survey was carried out in July this year on a nationally-representative panel of 1,000 adults in all 50 U.S. states.
Each was interviewed over the telephone about their background, whether they consume cannabis and if they think it has a positive effect.
America’s $30 billion legalized cannabis industry is causing an ‘explosion’ of teen users
Teenagers in states that have legalized cannabis use more of it and are lured by colorfully-packaged candy-like products that leave them vulnerable to higher rates of dependency, psychosis and school dropouts, researchers warn.
A DailyMail.com analysis of research focusing on California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and other states that have legalized recreational pot shows experts warning of a ‘potential explosion’ of under-aged use — and more youngsters using it than in states where it’s illegal.
They are alarmed by the weak oversight of a $30billion business and warn of a free-for-all market in which super-strength cannabis products are sold in cartoon-covered packaging that attracts youngsters, even as tobacco and alcohol firms are barred from targeting youths.
Data from the 19 states that have permitted recreational pot this past decade, as well as the 38 states that allow medical use, indicates that teens and young adults there are using stronger products more often.
Not every teen who eats a pot gummy sees their life unravel. But they are more prone to addiction and dependency than adults, and greater availability and use means more cases of anxiety, depression, psychosis and even suicide.
In November, voters in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma will decide on whether to liberalize their own cannabis laws — and let windfall pot industry taxes flow into state coffers.
‘Cannabis use is more common among youth and adults in states where cannabis use is legal for recreational use,’ Renee Goodwin, who leads Columbia University’s research, told DailyMail.com.
‘Legalization has moved from a social justice issue, to the other extreme of big business commercialization without any of the same restrictions that tobacco and alcohol now need to follow.’
Almost half of Americans (48 percent) have now tried the drug for the first time, the survey found, up from 45 percent in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who were 18 to 34 years old were most likely to say they had smoked marijuana or eaten edibles, compared to those between 35 and 54 years old and the over-55s.
In the youngest age group 51 percent said they had tried the drug already.
But among the over 55s this was 44 percent while for 35 to 54-year-olds this was 49 percent.
It also showed people who vote for Independents were most likely to have had tried the drug (55 percent), followed by Democrats (53 percent) and Republicans (34 percent).
The survey did not ask people how often they smoked or ate marijuana.
Use of marijuana is likely rising as more states legalize it — making the drug more accessible — and due to stress from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is now only fully illegal in four states — Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming — with the rest having cleared it for medical use such as to treat chronic pain.
A total of 19 states — including California, New York and Massachusetts — have also given it the green light for recreational use, triggering an uptick in people using the drug in their states.
Warning that more research was needed to confirm cannabis is safe last week, Volkow told DailyMail.com that legalizing the drug had made it ‘more appealing’.
‘Legalization not only has made access to cannabis easier for its regular use, but it has also contributed to the perception that cannabis is a “safe” drug,’ she said.
‘[This] makes it more appealing to individuals who are concerned of engaging in illegal activities or activities that endanger their health.’
But she warned: ‘The trends that we’ve found [of rising cannabis use] highlight the urgent need to gain a better understanding of the potential health risks and benefits of cannabis use among young adults.’
Volkow pointed to studies suggesting that taking cannabis regularly, in high doses or over a long period may lead to problems with brain development — lowering IQs — and psychosis — where someone struggles to interpret reality.
She also explained how the drug has been linked to social problems, including being linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school.
Health agencies in the U.S. have been warning for years there is a ‘real risk’ that cannabis can harm a person’s mental development and their social life — including triggering problems with relationships, education and careers.
But their concerns have largely been swept under the carpet as many states push forward with legalizing the drug for recreational use.
In November another six states — Arkansas, Maryland, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma — are set to decide whether to also liberalize the drug’s use