After legalizing marijuana, Colorado sees higher number of “daily” users

Lee Strobel tweeted this story from the Denver Post.

Excerpt:

As marijuana legalization took hold in Colorado, the estimated percentage of regular cannabis users in the state jumped to the second-highest level in the country, according to new federal data.

When asked, roughly one out of every eight Colorado residents over the age of 12 reported using marijuana in the previous month. Only Rhode Island topped Colorado in the percentage of residents who reported using marijuana as frequently.

The results come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and represent the average of estimates gathered in 2012 and 2013.

[…]State-specific data from the survey are averaged over two-year periods to compensate for relatively small sample sizes.

For the 2011-12 period, 10.4 percent of Coloradans 12 and older reported using marijuana in the month prior to being surveyed. That placed Colorado seventh in the country for monthly marijuana use.

Monthly use in Colorado jumped to 12.7 percent — a 22 percent increase — in the 2012-13 data. The result means the survey estimates about 530,000 people in Colorado use marijuana at least once a month.

Nationally, monthly marijuana use by people 12 and older nudged upward by about 4 percent to 7.4 percent. In Washington state — which, like Colorado, in 2012 legalized marijuana use and limited possession for adults — monthly marijuana use rose by about 20 percent to 12.3 percent.

Kleiman said researchers will get a better idea about marijuana use in Colorado once they are able to zoom in on data showing how many people use marijuana daily. A study commissioned by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division this year found that people who use marijuana almost every day account for about 22 percent of cannabis users in Colorado but consume nearly 67 percent of the marijuana used. Other studies have warned about a possible uptick in heavy marijuana use.

“The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up,” Kleiman said.

Monthly marijuana use increased across all age groups in Colorado, according to the new survey numbers. The number of people who reported using marijuana in the past year also increased in Colorado in the 2012-13 data, but the state ranked only sixth nationally in the measurement. Measurements for alcohol consumption and illicit drug use increased, as well.

What will be interesting will be to see how this increased usage affects tax revenues and the crime rate. I think when more people use mind-altering drugs, it is going to harm their ability to get and keep jobs, which affects tax revenue. And when people are addicted to something, they are more inclined to take a risk on committing a crime to get the money to pay for their next fix. Should be interesting to learn from Colorado’s little experiment.

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10 thoughts on “After legalizing marijuana, Colorado sees higher number of “daily” users”

  1. I am not sure there isn’t a major methodological problem with this study, in that people are less likely to admit to an illegal activity than they are to a legal one, and so naturally, one will end up with more people admitting to usage once it’s legalized, compared to the number admitting to using it prior to legalization.

    Of course, it is also true that more people could be using it now that it is legal, but one can’t tell based on how they did the survey.

    A better survey might have asked those in the past year how many of them had also used it prior to legalization, and how often compared to now.

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  2. While Will S. makes a great point, I will say that I don’t doubt that regular usage rises where pot is legalized. When legal, it is easier to get, and thus, that alone makes usage more common.

    I used to be a regular toker. I did so for many years. It would not be uncommon to have toked daily for as long as I had the discretionary cash to purchase it and the availability. I’d be toked on the job (not dealing with heavy machinery or life-critical tasks) and then afterwards. For all the years I imbibed, I never risked an electric bill or any other responsibility with which purchasing weed could interfere. I did not pilfer for pot. When I came to a point where I needed a job (after having been laid off) and had to change careers to get one, the change I made required regular drug testing (and still does). I no longer toke. Had no trouble quitting, other than not wanting to. I preferred it to drinking for a buzz.

    I do not say this as a brag or point of pride. Toking isn’t a Christian activity. As I also smoked cigarettes for far too long, I now have emphysema. Not a bad case of it, but its there nonetheless and had I thought of that possibility I might have quit cigs sooner and enjoyed more pot brownies rather than doobies.

    My point here is that I toked because I wanted to and quit because it was necessary to earn. I will likely celebrate my retirement with a bowl, but I doubt I will ever resume the practice beyond that, simply because I’m not that interested in doing so. But weed usage that leads to criminal behavior is not likely, at least not to any negligible extent. That is, if one is not prone to such behavior, pot use will not bring it about. It just doesn’t work that way. Anyone who gets “addicted” to weed is likely obsessive/compulsive and is also likely to get hooked on most anything.

    Again, I do not say any of this to campaign for dope. It’s just that I’ve never experienced, either in myself or in anyone I’ve ever known that used, the things some people say about pot and those who smoke it.

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    1. Nicotine, ethanol, THC, caffeine, are all just substances; partaking of any of them is neither anti-Christian or Christian, if they are legal; all are things ‘adiaphora’, or indifferent. Scripture teaches against drunkenness; it doesn’t condemn mere consumption of alcohol. The same principle surely applies to any and all other substances; esp. since no other ones are even mentioned, so the only precedent we have, is that of alcohol: don’t overdo any substance – or don’t partake at all if you don’t wish to, but labelling partaking of any particular substance at all, rather than in excess, is not supported by Scripture; it is legalism, going beyond what Scripture teaches, which we shouldn’t do, unless we wish to be like Pharisees and add man-made rules to those of God, and claim we ought to follow them equally. If we wish to avoid being Pharasaical, or like the Judaizers mentioned in the Pauline letters, we avoid that, and avoid calling for laws against such.

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        1. Indeed, we ought to avoid turning things ‘adiaphora’ into ‘sins’, when they are not, since it is hubris to think we are wiser than God.

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      1. With all due respect, Will, I would have to say that partaking of anything that will inebriate would be problematic. Alcohol won’t necessarily provide a buzz unless one drinks too much of it. But pot inebriates immediately (unless it’s ditch weed) and no one I’ve ever met or heard of it imbibes for any other reason than inebriation. I say this with full knowledge of medicinal uses, but we aren’t talking about medicinal use in a discussion of legalization for recreational use. Just sayin’.

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        1. But just as with booze, there are degrees. You can have a drink, and get a mild buzz, some relaxation effects, without getting drunk, and you could have a puff without smoking a whole joint; you can vary the amount of which you partake, same as you can drink a little or a lot. And you can get a mild buzz, or you can get baked; the choice is yours.

          The fact that it takes much less total mass of a particular substance (in the case of marijuana, fractions of a gram) in order to have noticeable effects simply means greater responsibility is required for anyone who chooses to partake to avoid intoxication. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so.

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          1. Have you ever partaken of the wacky weed, Will? I ask respectfully, because as I have said, only the worst quality weed can possibly provide no buzz on one toke. Yet, I can drink several glasses of wine (not necessarily in rapid succession) without feeling any effects. Thus, I can drink wine for the pleasure of taste and never suffer inebriation. Not so with even average weed. So yes, I would say that, again discounting really crappy weed, intoxication is guaranteed with weed.

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          2. Different people react differently; body mass plays a role; I know two guys who can share a joint, and one of them gets blazed, and the other barely buzzed; it’s analogous to you being able to drink several glasses of wine without feeling any effects – me too – whereas someone not used to it, or who weighs 85 pounds, it may be another story.

            And there surely is a difference between one puff, and multiple puffs, just like one sip, and a glass, of any alcoholic beverage.

            A basic principle of pharmacology is that for every substance, there is a quantity sufficiently small that consumption of that amount will have zero effect, and there is a quantity sufficiently large that consumption of that amount will kill you. Even water can theoretically be over-consumed, and be deadly. By the same token (no pun intended) one could have a tiny amount of the highest grade of herb, and not end up completely stoned.

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  3. I am not a pot smoker, but I believe that a responsible, hardworking, taxpaying adult should be able to do so without government interference. And like millions of others, I am tired of the decades-long drug wars that have squandered hundreds of billions of national wealth, enriched violent drug cartels, corrupted government at all levels, ruined lives, and militarized the police. But that could just be me.

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