The US Government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA)
is a treasure trove of information from the National Surveys on Drug
Use & Health 2001-2007. I’ve always been uncomfortable discussing
most marijuana statistics from this and other reports because the data
so often cover marijuana use from age 12 and older. NORML stands for
the responsible adult use of marijuana, so I wanted to know
the facts on age 18 and older (some may wish for numbers age 21 and
older; I only picked 18+ because the first data column is age 18-25).
The essential caveat: these are the people who will tell these things to a stranger for a government survey.
First of all, how many adults in the United States have ever smoked
weed? The Survey breaks down the data by age categories and gives the
percentage of the sample (Unweighted N) that answered yes or no to the
question. Then they extrapolate, based on US adult population
demographics, how many people in the United States (Weighted N) would
answer yes or no.
18-25 YEARS OLD 16,790,928 51.3% 26-34 YEARS OLD 17,579,601 49.8% 35-49 YEARS OLD 34,676,635 53.1% 50 OR OLDER 26,869,808 30.1% TOTAL 95,916,972 40.4%
US Adults Who Have Ever Used Marijuana by Age
That’s 95 million folks who’ve smoked herb.? The percentage is how
many within that age group have used - a majority of 18-25s and 35-49s
and real close on the 26-34s.? Or look at it this way: If you see
someone under age fifty, flip a coin. Heads, they’ve smoked pot, tails,
When you look at the population of adults who have ever used
marijuana, we find that young people (18-34) and middle-aged people
(35-50) are equally represented at 36% of the population.
More fun with government numbers and Excel 2007 after the break…
US Adults Who Have Used Cannabis, by Race/Ethnicity
Well over two-thirds of people who have ever smoked pot are white,
and only one-fourth are black or Latino. This is an interesting fact to
note when compared to the proportions of white, black, and Latino people arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for marijuana. (Hint: those brown pie slices get a whole lot bigger.)
While Latinos make up the second largest share of adults who’ve used
cannabis, that is primarily due to their numbers in the overall
Adults Who Have Ever Used Cannabis by Race/Ethnicity
When broken down by racial/ethnic groups, we find that Hispanics are
actually less likely to have used cannabis than any other group but
Asians (about 1 out of 4 Latinos have used marijuana and only 1 out of
6 Asians… no matter what Cheech & Chong and Harold & Kumar may
have led you to believe.)
US Adults Who Use Marijuana Annually by Age
Concentrating only on the 22,003,805 estimated American adults who
have used cannabis at least once in the past year yields some
interesting figures as well. As expected, younger people are the most
likely cannabis consumers. A full 28% of people aged 18-25 use cannabis
annually, and over 11% are using cannabis more than 100 days per year,
more than the 9% who use less than monthly. But by ages 26-34, all
those figures drop by half or more (so much for the new Pot 2.0’s
addictive powers.) By ages 35-49, even though chronic and
occasional/rare use drops by half again, there are still one out of
twelve middle-aged Americans using marijuana at least once per year.
US Adult Chronic Marijuana Use by Age
36.9% of all annual adult marijuana smokers use marijuana more than
100 times per year, meaning there are an estimated 8,120,045 chronic
tokers out there. Almost half of these users are aged 18-25.
So remember, dear marijuana smoker, you are not alone. 95,916,972
American adults have used marijuana. 22,003,805 American adults have
used marijuana this year. 8,120,045 American adults have likely used
marijuana today. If only 1% of people who smoked pot today donated a dollar to NORML, we’d beat our advertising fundraising goal four times over.