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Tipping Points: Americans Now Consume More Cannabis Than Alcohol on a Daily Basis.

Tipping Points: Americans Now Consume More Cannabis Than Alcohol on a Daily Basis.

For the first time, the number of Americans who use cannabis daily or nearly every day has surpassed those who drink alcohol as frequently. This marks a significant cultural shift as recreational cannabis becomes more mainstream and legalized across the United States.

Daniel Johnson

24/05/26, 14:00

This report was first published in La Voce di New York on 26 May 2024.


In 2022, an estimated 17.7 million Americans reported using marijuana daily or near-daily, compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers, according to a study published in the journal Addiction. This change, decades in the making, reflects evolving societal attitudes and legal frameworks surrounding cannabis use.


Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, noted, “A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use.” The increase in daily marijuana use is striking, especially when considering that in 1992, fewer than one million people reported near-daily cannabis use.


READ: Gen Z leads the way in favouring cannabis over alcohol


The legalization of marijuana in many states has played a crucial role in this shift. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use, while 38 states have legalized its medicinal use. This widespread acceptance has reduced the stigma associated with cannabis, leading to more open reporting of its use. Dr. Brooke Worster, Chief Medical Officer at EO Care, explained, “People don’t feel as scared to admit they’re using it. The rates have not changed as dramatically as the survey indicates.”


The federal landscape is also evolving. The Biden administration recently initiated the process to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance, reflecting its reduced perception of danger. President Joe Biden highlighted the importance of this reform, stating, “Far too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana.”


Despite the growing acceptance and use of cannabis, experts caution about the risks associated with high-frequency use. Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland, warned that increased daily use could lead to higher instances of cannabis-use disorder and associated health problems, even a higher likelihood of schizophrenia, especially in young men.


Additionally, Dr. Worster noted that while cannabis-use disorder does not lead to organ damage like alcohol, it can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Among the conditions it can trigger are: breathing problems, increased heart rate, problems with child development during and after pregnancy, and intense nausea and vomiting.


The potency of marijuana has also increased significantly over the years. The average THC level, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, has risen from 4% in 1995 to over 15% in 2021, according to the University of Mississippi’s potency monitoring project. As Gen Z continues to favor marijuana, this trend is likely to influence broader cultural and societal norms, further cementing cannabis’s place in everyday life.

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