More Americans Use Marijuana Daily Than Drink Alcohol Daily, Study Finds

For the first time, daily marijuana use is reportedly higher than daily alcohol use in the United States

Nastasic / Getty Images
Nastasic / Getty Images

For the first time, more people in the United States are using marijuana daily than drinking alcohol daily, a new study finds.

The study — published May 22 in the journal Addiction — analyzed people between 1979 and 2022 who self-reported estimates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers found that in 2022, about 17.7 million people reported daily or near-daily marijuana use, compared to 14.7 million people who reported drinking alcohol at the same frequency.

This was the first year the survey recorded more frequent use of marijuana than alcohol. Participants reported drinking on four to five days per month, compared to marijuana use 15 to 16 days per month.

Jonathan Caulkins, study author and cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, said the upward trend coincides with recent changes in cannabis policy.

“Over the last 30 years, the number of people who report using the drug in the past month has risen fivefold from 8 million to 42 million,” Caulkins and Stanford University professor Keith Humphries wrote in the Washington Monthly about the analysis. “Through the mid-1990s, only about one-in-six or one-in-eight of those users consumed the drug daily or near daily, similar to alcohol’s roughly one-in-ten. Now, more than 40 percent of marijuana users consume daily or near daily.”

Related: Marijuana Use Raises Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack and Heart Failure, American Heart Association Says

Cavan Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images Have you tried marijuana for your migraine?
Cavan Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images Have you tried marijuana for your migraine?

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The study also noted that marijuana is “no longer a young person’s drug” and that in 2022, people 35 and older accounted for “slightly” more days of use than those under 35.

Caulkins told the Washington Post that frequency of marijuana use has increased because prices have dropped as it becomes legal in more places across the country. A lot more people are also using “extract-based products” like edibles and vapes, which are more potent.

“Cannabis legalization has expanded the variety of products,” he told the outlet. “A lot of people are spending a substantial portion of their waking hours under the influence.”

Caulkins noted that while marijuana is “not as dangerous as opioids,” the increase of daily users should be monitored as there are still some health consequences.

“There is a long list of reasons why this is not great, even if it is not deadly,” he said. “There is a role for officials to design policies that protect public health.”

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