Science Says Less and Less Americans Are Afraid of Weed Every Day

In fact, 7,000 U.S. adults get lit for the first time every day.

A new study of America’s marijuana smoking habits published August 31 in The Lancet finds that more U.S. adults are using weed than ever before. Also, American weed users are using more weed.

Researchers combed through data provided by annual U.S. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2014. Apparently, previously unlit Americans started picking up at an increasing rate right around 2007, by which time 12 states had adopted some form of legal medical marijuana. Results for first-time users were significantly higher in the years between 2011 and 2014, and the availability of legal medical marijuana had expanded to approximately half the states in the country.

The Lancet researchers attribute this increase in new cannabis consumers to “decreases in perceiving great risk of harm from smoking marijuana” among a widening potential user base. This is good news. It means the scare-story effect from middle-school drug "education" programs and corny televised PSAs eventually wears off.

 Contrary to the escalation of adult usage between 2002 and 2014, the Lancet study failed to detect a corresponding increase in marijuana-use disorders (however nebulous the process of identifying those may be). Undeterred by the clear and obvious evidence they had uncovered, the researchers concluded that their study suggests “the need for education regarding the risk of smoking marijuana and prevention messages.”

According to a separate list of statistics released September 1 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average 7,000 American adults use weed for the first time every day. The popular wisdom of those 49,000 weekly new users is saying fairly loudly and clearly that the time for cannabis-risk education and prevention messages is long gone.