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Marijuana Facts

A snapshot of current trends in national marijuana use.

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Learn the truth about marijuana. Facts and figures debunk the notion that marijuana use is no big deal.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes the following recent statistics on marijuana use in the United States: [1]

  • According to a 2009 national survey, more than 104 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried marijuana at least once, and almost 17 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.
  • Marijuana use usually peaks in the late teens and early twenties, and then declines in later years. Use among young people remains a natural concern for parents and the focus of continuing research, particularly regarding its impact on brain development, which continues into a person's early twenties.
  • The potency of marijuana has been increasing steadily. In 2009, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 10 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s.
  • In 2008, marijuana was reported in over 374,000 emergency department visits in the U.S., with about 13 percent involving people between the ages of 12 and 17.
  • Long-term studies of high school students' patterns of drug use show that most young people who use other drugs have tried marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco first.
  • The World Health Organization ranks the United States first among 17 European and North American countries for prevalence of marijuana use.

New people start using marijuana every day. In 2008, an estimated 2.2 million Americans used marijuana for the first time. More than half of first-time marijuana users were under age 18.