US Marijuana Use Grows As Fewer People Worry About the Risks

Article by Taylor Kubota, Live Science Contributor

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Marijuana use is on the rise in the U.S., and one reason may be that people perceive the drug as less harmful than people did in the past, according to new research.

The authors of the new study say their findings, published today (Aug. 31) in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, suggest that more education about the risks of marijuana is needed.

Other reports have also shown that marijuana use is increasing, said lead authorDr. Wilson Compton, deputy director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What’s new here is that we’ve identified the mid-2000s […] as when both the attitudes towards marijuana began to shift and the use of marijuana began increasing as well,” he said.

In the study, the researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2014, which included self-reported information from a nationally representative sample of nearly 600,000 U.S. adults. This data excluded people who were incarcerated or homeless and not living in shelters, the researchers noted. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

The results showed that, in 2002, 10.4 percent of survey respondents said they had used marijuana in the previous year. In 2014, that percentage was up to 13.4 percent. The percentage of adults who said they had used marijuana for the first time during the previous year rose from 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent over that same period.

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