Based on social media reports, it is clear that a fair number of people are asking for marijuana to be legalized. But how many people actually use it? A latest report suggests that previous data on the epidemiology of users are erroneous.. While the rates have increased, they certainly have not doubled in the last decade, says Dr. Grucza, who is the author of this study. Dr. Grucza, Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and colleagues just published their finding in the JAMA Psychiatry.
Last year, it was reported that marijuana use among American adults more than doubled between 2001-2002 and 2012 -2013 from 4.1 to 9.5 percent. In addition, this study also reported that rate of marijuana use for disorders such as dependence and abuse also increased during this time period from 1-5 to 2.9 percent.
Dr. Grucza suggests that the data of the above study are inaccurate. He points out that the earlier studies used two face to face interview to gather the marijuana data and related problems and the first interviews were carried out by the US census workers. “Data from face-to-face surveys previously have been demonstrated to be more sensitive to social attitudes than data collected anonymously. People may say one thing to an interviewer but something else on an anonymous computer survey, particularly when the questions deal with an illegal substance.”
In their study Dr. Grucza and colleagues collected data on marijuana use in the US between 2002-2013 using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which is a yearly computerized questionnaire that gathers information on prevalence and trends of drug use. The team assessed data from than 450,000 adults aged 18 and older. Their analysis revealed that there was an increase in marijuana use from 2002-2013 but nowhere as high as that reported in the last study. This latest study observed an increase of about 20% from 2002 -2013, compared to the nearly 100% increase in the previous study. Further they also observed no changes in the rate of marijuana related problems, such as dependence, contrary to the previous reports.
This latest study should come as good news to the state and federal governments who have been pondering what to do next with the public demand for marijuana. Most of the misinformation on marijuana is by non-healthcare workers and manufacturers of the illicit drug who keep on claiming that marijuana is the panacea to all of our health problems.