Report shows attitudes toward marijuana use changing in young adults

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A man smokes a joint during a demonstration for the decriminalization of cannabis. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- It appears attitudes towards marijuana use are changing as more states legalize weed for adult use. Less young adults view using marijuana as risky behavior, according to a recently released report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health.

Young adults also think vaping marijuana is riskier than the occasional use of marijuana, and think experimenting with other drugs like cocaine, heroin, sedatives, or LSD is riskier than experimenting with marijuana, according to the report.

The NIDA has been tracking the attitudes of adults and young adults, beginning with high school seniors, towards drug use since the late 1970s. They began including teens in eighth and tenth grade starting in 1991. Over time, increasingly more young adults view experimental, occasional, or regular use of weed as not a big deal. In 2020 the percentage of young adults that viewed marijuana use as risky reached an all-time low, NIDA said.

Additionally, NIDA said people ages 19-30 who used marijuana daily, in the past 30 days, or in the past year was the highest its ever been. Data from 2020 revealed 42% of young adults used weed at least once in the past year, 27% used it at least once in the past month, and 9.8% used it daily or almost daily during the last month.

Marijuana vaping had been increasing from 2017, when the NIDA began including questions regarding vaping marijuana, to 2019. They said that trend did not continue into 2020. The prevalence of vaping marijuana both in the last year and month declined to 20% and 11% respectively.

People in their mid-20s (24% for ages 19-22) were more likely to vape marijuana in the past year or the past month. It was the same with regular use of marijuana with people between the ages of 21-26 the most likely to have used it in the past month (29%) or year (44-47%). Overall, marijuana use decreases with age. The percentage of adults who use marijuana yearly or monthly at age 50 was 16-18% and at age 60 10-11%, it said in the report.

Men between the ages of 19-30 were more likely than women to use marijuana daily or in the past month. Men in that age bracket were also more likely than women to have vaped marijuana in the past month or the past year. College students were also less likely to use marijuana than their peers not in college.

The report does not have a state-by-state breakdown but it does provide regional information. Use of marijuana (regular and vaping) by those between 19-30 years old in the past year tended to be higher in the Northeast and West than in the Midwest and South.

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