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Marijuana Abuse & Addiction Statistics in 2023 | Learn More

Marijuana use rates are currently at all-time highs. 

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Based on data from the 2022 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the rate of marijuana abuse among those ages 19 to 30 was its highest ever noted at 35%, while the rate for people ages 35 to 50 was 28%. Eleven percent of people reported daily marijuana use.[1]

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 52.5 million people in the U.S. used marijuana in 2022, and this high rate will likely continue into 2023.[2]

Top States Impacted by Marijuana Use & Abuse

Different states experience different rates of marijuana abuse. Often, it was the legal status of marijuana that seemed to impact the rates of use and abuse of the drug most significantly. 

It’s an issue that seems unlikely to decrease any time soon as legalization has led to the normalization of marijuana use. In states where marijuana use is legal, rates of use increase.[3] 

Here are some state-specific stats on marijuana use and abuse:[4,5]

  • States with high marijuana usage rates for residents aged 12 or over in 2021 include Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
  • California saw significant growth in marijuana use rates between 2013 and 2017, increasing from 13.86% to 18.62%. Other states that experienced comparable increases in the rate of marijuana use during the same period included Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and New York. 
  • Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio Pennsylvania Tennessee West Virginia all had moderate marijuana abuse rates in 2017.
  • Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and New Jersey had marijuana use rates between 11.79% and 12.7% in 2017, as did Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Children & Marijuana

When young people use marijuana, it negatively impacts their cognitive and emotional development and puts them at risk of life-changing or fatal accidents and lifelong addiction.[6] As a result, protecting children from exposure to marijuana edibles and early use of the drug during teenage years can help to prevent tragedy and the development of addiction issues that will follow them into adulthood. 

  • Marijuana is the most frequently used recreational drug in the U.S. that is illegal at the federal level. Its use among children and teenagers is rising dramatically, particularly in states that have legalized its use.[7] 
  • Due to the growing availability and popularity of marijuana, there has been an increase in accidental cannabis ingestion among children.[8] This is partly due to the fact that cannabis products are often packaged and presented in a way that resembles candies and foods that are attractive to young children. 
  • A review of data from poison centers found that in states where marijuana has been decriminalized, there was a 30% annual increase in calls related to unintentional pediatric marijuana exposures between 2005 and 2011. In contrast, there was no change in the number of such calls in states where marijuana use is still illegal.[9]

COVID-19 & Marijuana Abuse

The pandemic drove people into their homes, causing isolation, boredom, and, in some cases, an increased struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. As a result, many people turned to marijuana use to manage those issues. Some began using the drug so heavily that they developed an addiction to the substance. 

  • In a survey from 2020, about 41.3% of people polled reported increasing their use of marijuana in general during the lockdown, while about 50% said their use levels stayed the same, 6.6% reported using less marijuana, and less than 3% said they stopped using marijuana temporarily.[11] 
  • Regular users of marijuana who consumed the drug at least once a month had significantly poorer COVID-19 survival rates, even after accounting for known risk factors like age, gender, smoking history and comorbidities.[12]

Risk of Marijuana Addiction

As marijuana use and abuse rates have risen significantly, rates of marijuana use disorder (or marijuana addiction) have also increased.

  • Even though not all marijuana users progress to addiction, approximately 30% of users show symptoms indicative of marijuana use disorder. Some studies estimate this to be a 30% likelihood of addiction forming.[13-15]
  • Another study estimates the likelihood of marijuana addiction at 10% for regular users.[16].
  • People who begin regular use of marijuana during childhood or adolescence and consistently engage in its use are at an increased risk of developing a marijuana use disorder. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the highest risk for cannabis dependence was seen among early to late adolescent age groups.[17]

Death Associated With Marijuana

Though it is uncommon for marijuana users and even those living with a marijuana addiction to die due to drug overdose, as is common among users of other substances, marijuana use is correlated with higher rates of mortality as compared to people who don’t use marijuana.[18] 

  • A study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program followed patients between the ages of 15 to 49 years over a period of a decade and found that those who used marijuana on occasion or regularly had a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality, even after accounting for factors like tobacco smoking, alcohol use, and socioeconomic variables.[19] 
  • Accidental ingestion of marijuana by children and accidental overdose by teenagers and young adults, especially in the form of marijuana, has been increasingly reported.[20] It has led to devastating side effects, including respiratory failure and even accidental deaths. 
  • Over the past 18 years, car crash deaths involving marijuana use have more than doubled, while deaths involving both cannabis and alcohol combined has more than doubled. Research conducted at Boston Medical Center’s School of Public Health discovered that those involved in accidents involving cannabis had 50% greater odds of also having alcohol in their system when they died in these crashes.[21] 

The Future of Marijuana Use & Abuse

While the latest data on marijuana use and abuse isn’t yet available for 2023, based on 2022 rates, it’s expected that rates will stay similarly high. As states continue to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the stigma surrounding it fades away. With increased accessibility and more social acceptance, rates of use increase and rates of abuse quickly follow.

If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana use or addiction, help is available. The effects of marijuana addiction can be widespread, but there is hope in recovery. Reach out for help today and embrace a better future.

Updated January 11, 2024
Resources
  1. Marijuana and hallucinogen use, binge drinking reached historic highs among adults 35 to 50. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published August 17, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  2. SAMHSA announces National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) results detailing mental illness and substance use levels in 2021. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published January 4, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  3. Cannabis legalization in the US. Where do we go from here? Martins SS, Levy NS, Bruzelius E, Segura LE. Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. Published 2022. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  4. 2016-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health National Maps of Prevalence Estimates, by State. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Updated August 10, 2021. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  5. 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health national maps of prevalence estimates, by state. Published April 29, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  6. Adverse effects of cannabis on adolescent brain development: A longitudinal study. Camchong J, Lim KO, Kumra S. Cerebral Cortex. 2016;27(3):bhw015.
  7. Marijuana and public health: Data and statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 8, 2021. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  8. Pediatric edible cannabis exposures and acute toxicity: 2017–2021. Tweet MS, Nemanich A, Wahl M. Pediatrics. 2023;151(2).
  9. Marijuana use in children: An update focusing on pediatric tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol use. Stoner MJ 1, Dietrich A 2, Lam 3 SHF, et al. ProQuest. 2022;3(4).
  10. Teen cannabis abuse has increased 245% over 20 years, study finds. Rideout N. OHSU News. Published December 7, 2022. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  11. Cannabis and COVID-19: Reasons for concern. van Laar MW, Oomen PE, van Miltenburg CJA, Vercoulen E, Freeman TP, Hall WD. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2020;11.
  12. Cannabis use is associated with lower COVID-19 susceptibility but poorer survival. Huang D, Xu R, Na R. Frontiers in Public Health. 2022;10.
  13. Prevalence of marijuana use disorders in the United States between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235.
  14. Is marijuana addictive? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 2020. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  15. Addiction | Health Effects | Marijuana | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published September 9, 2021. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  16. Probability and predictors of transition from first use to dependence on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine: Results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Lopez-Quintero C, Cobos JP de los, Hasin DS, et al. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2011;115(1-2):120-130.
  17. Likelihood of developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder during youth: Association with recent use and age. Winters KC, Lee CYS. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2008;92(1):239-247.
  18. Cannabis, psychosis, and mortality: A cohort study of 50,373 Swedish men. Manrique-Garcia E, Ponce de Leon A, Dalman C, Andréasson S, Allebeck P. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016;173(8):790-798.
  19. Marijuana use and mortality. Sidney S, Beck JE, Tekawa IS, Quesenberry CP, Friedman GD. American Journal of Public Health. 1997;87(4):585-590. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  20. Marijuana toxicity. Turner AR, Suneil Agrawal. StatPearls. Published June 3, 2019. Accessed December 22, 2023.
  21. Car crash deaths involving cannabis on the rise. Boston University School of Public Health. Published November 10, 2021. Accessed December 22, 2023.
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