Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on current trends in cannabis use across the U.S. Check back in early August for the second installment of the series.
As of this writing, cannabis is legal in 10 states for recreational use, decriminalized in another 15 states, and allowed for medical use in nearly all states. In fact, only Idaho and South Dakota don’t allow marijuana use of any sort.
And right now, at least 1 in 6 American adults (ages 18+) say they use cannabis at least a few times each year — and another 12% prefer not to answer.
Taking away people who never use cannabis, the “prefer not to answer” crowd grows to 43%. How many of them use marijuana is unknown, but among people who are copping to using, a quarter of them say they use cannabis every day.
Breaking down the numbers a bit further — and concentrating solely on people who responded “yes” in one form or another — men outpace women in cannabis use by 28%.
Gen Z (ages 18 to 24)– a generation that has literally come of age in a world where it’s been a “when,” not “if” in regard to marijuana legalization — report using cannabis at the highest rate, with more than a quarter of that generation using cannabis at least a few times a year. Adults ages 25 to 34 and ages 35 to 54 each come in a shade under 20%, and the 55+ crew rolls a joint at a 15% rate.
Interestingly, daily use of cannabis is higher among those ages 25 to 54.
How It’s Used
Among marijuana users, nearly half use traditional smoking methods as the most common method to reap the benefits. About 1 in 5 prefer to use vaporizers, 1 in 6 tend toward edibles, and a little less than 15% primarily choose other methods, such as tinctures or balms.
Breaking it down by age, Gen Z and 35- to 54-year-olds prefer to smoke cannabis the most, 25- to 34-year-olds favor vaporizers at the highest rate, and people 55+ prefer the use of tinctures and balms at nearly twice the rate of all other age groups.
Additionally, men prefer smoking at a 22% higher rate than women, though women prefer tinctures and balms at nearly double the rate.
Recreational or Medicinal?
Broadly speaking among cannabis users, 1 in 6 use it medicinally, 29% recreationally, and another 31% saying both (with 23% of respondents preferring not to answer).
Among confirmed cannabis users, a shocking split is seen with Gen Z, as nearly 75% of people who use marijuana in that cohort saying they use it both medicinally and recreationally – more than double any other age group. Clearly, the line between “health and wellness” and “just feeling groovy” is not a line Gen Z is recognizing.
The gender splits are equally eye-popping (or rather, droopy-eyelid barely opening): Women say they use cannabis medicinally at a 52% higher rate than men, and men say they use it recreationally at a 41% higher rate than women.
Drop by again in early August for Part 2 of our series on cannabis use in the U.S. in 2020. CivicScience will take a look at cannabis usage trends over the past few months, and focus on cannabis users’ views on the coronavirus pandemic, healthy eating, and more.