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Monthly Marijuana Use Up 3%, Nearly Half A Million Are AARP-Eligible


NSDUH-2011Over 16 million voting-age American adults will use marijuana monthly, according to the latest National Survey on Drug Use & Health for 2011, released today by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration.

In 2010, the survey estimated 15.6 million Americans aged 18 and older had used marijuana in the past month, a figure that has increased by 498,000 to now 16.1 million regular cannabis consumers.  This represents 6.77% of all American adults who are considered criminals every month under state and federal law, or one out of every fifteen citizens aged 18 and older.

Age Group 2010 Monthly 2011 Monthly Change
18-29 8,213,000 8,622,000 +409,000
30-49 5,220,000 4,811,000 -409,000
50+ 2,173,000 2,671,000 +498,000
50-54 1,072,000 1,129,000 +57,000
55-59 598,000 855,000 +257,000
60-64 316,000 392,000 +76,000
65 or Older 187,000 295,000 +108,000

Surprisingly, the growth in marijuana smoking appears to be solely dependent on the increased use of cannabis by older Americans. A gain of 409,000 new monthly marijuana smokers in the 18-29 age group was cancelled out by a decline of 409,000 in the 30-49 age group. The increase of 498,000 adult marijuana smokers comes from the age group 50+. Increases were also found at every sub-group of the 50+ cohort as well.

Among white people, monthly marijuana smoking remained steady and fewer African-Americans (-3.1%) are consuming marijuana monthly.  Monthly use among Asian-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos is up over 18%.  However, monthly use by Asian-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos is relatively less than those groups’ representation in America.  Asian-Americans make up 5% of the population but only 2% of monthly marijuana smokers.  Hispanics/Latinos make up 16.7% of the population but only 12.8% of monthly marijuana smokers.

Midwest +6.6% 1 medmj state
Northeast +4.6% 2 medmj states, 3 pending
South +2.9% 0 medmj states, 2 pending
West +0.2% 10 medmj states
* pending = passed, but not implemented yet

Georgaphically, monthly marijuana use seems to be increasing more in regions of the country without medical marijuana laws.  The Midwest (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, & SD) has seen the greatest monthly use increase 6.6% or 210,000 more monthly tokers, despite having only one active medical marijuana state (Michigan).  Increases of 4.6% were found in the Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT, NJ, NY, PA) with only 2 active state programs and monthly use is up 2.9% in the South (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, MS, NC, SC, VA, WV, AL, KY, MI, TN, AR, LA, OK, TX) with no active programs.  Yet in the West (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY, AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), the birthplace of medical marijuana, where 10 of the 13 states have active medical marijuana programs, seven of them for over a decade, monthly use has held statistically steady (+0.2%), which may actually be a decline when population increase is factored in.

Annual use of marijuana among adults aged 18 and older has now reached 26.1 million, an increase of 296,000 from the previous year.  The number of adults aged 18 and older who have tried marijuana in their lifetime has now reached 103.4 million, representing 43.5% of all voting-aged adults in America.


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. Good post! Kinda funny the feds are busting LA Dispensaries right after this info came out. Gotta protect GSK and all!

  2. Funny, how Mississippi (MS) isn’t in this list at all, even though it grows government cannabis with testing labs in Oxford. What the hell is going on here in Mississippi???
    Oh, and it looks as though Maryland (MD) and Delaware (DE) have moved south of the Mason-Dixon line, according to this list.

  3. Steve In Oakland on

    My father always said “if you read all the newspapers, AND YOU WERE THERE, you might have some idea what is going on.” [This, of course, was b.c. (before computers)]. Looking at internet headlines nowadays there is a trend that is hard to miss: Older people are using medicinal marijuana, and prescription drugs are showing a decline in use. This, no doubt, greatly fuels the government’s “war on drugs,” with medicinal marijuana dispensaries being treated like some floozie speakeasy in the 30s. Add to the mix the flurry of recent headlines telling how researchers have found a link between cannabis and cancer, blocking the metasticizing of cancer cells, and it all seems so surreal: Our government wastes resources trying to enforce draconian medieval laws against a naturally grown plant that has endless medicinal uses, now including as part of the war on cancer. The senior demographic is an interesting one. Harborside Health Center has a monthly “support group” for seniors who use medicinal marijuana; and the survivor of a 30-year prison term for reefer has launched a very aggressive education campaign in Florida, with informative videos now finding a worldwide audience. [For more information on the senior education outreach, see http://thesilvertour.org/ and for more information on the Harborside senior support groups see http://www.harborsidehealthcenter.com ].

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