Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol. In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults reported marijuana use in the past year.3 Its use is more prevalent among men than women.4
Marijuana use is widespread among adolescents and young adults. According to the Monitoring the Future survey—an annual survey of drug use and attitudes among the Nation’s middle and high school students—most measures of marijuana use by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders peaked in the mid-to-late 1990s and then began a period of gradual decline through the mid-2000s before levelling off. However, in 2019, there was a significant increase in daily use in the younger grades. In addition, teens’ perceptions of the risks of marijuana use have steadily declined over the past decade. In 2019, 11.8% of 8th graders reported marijuana use in the past year and 6.6% in the past month (current use). Among 10th graders, 28.8% had used marijuana in the past year and 18.4% in the past month. Rates of use among 12th graders were higher still: 35.7% had used marijuana during the year prior to the survey and 22.3% used in the past month; 6.4% said they used marijuana daily or near-daily.5 With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily.5
Medical emergencies possibly related to marijuana use have also increased. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a system for monitoring the health impact of drugs, estimated that in 2011, there were nearly 456,000 drug-related emergency department visits in the United States in which marijuana use was mentioned in the medical record (a 21% increase over 2009). About two-thirds of patients were male and 13% were between the ages of 12 and 17.6 It is unknown whether this increase is due to increased use, increased potency of marijuana (amount of THC it contains), or other factors. It should be noted, however, that mentions of marijuana in medical records do not necessarily indicate that these emergencies were directly related to marijuana intoxication.