Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Marijuana is not popular

The idea that marijuana is “popular” and use is “prolific” pops up in many news articles lately.  Just this past weekend, the New York Times Magazine included an article, “The Bud Light-ification of Bud”, that in the beginning states, “. . . marijuana’s popularity as a consumer product: 38 percent of Americans admit to having tried it, and 7 percent use it on a regular basis."

Wait, what?  Since when does 7% equal “popular”? 

Let’s see how it compares to other “popular” substances. 

  • Two-thirds of American adults drink alcohol.  Now that’s popular.
  • Tobacco, with 18% of American adults smoking, is more popular than marijuana. 

Yet, a few times in the article, and in other news stories about marijuana, it is called popular.

In our state, data readily indicate that marijuana use is not “popular".  According to research about the marijuana market, about 10% of Washingtonians 12 years old and older used marijuana within the past month.

Source: RAND Drug Policy Research Center, 2013
Even in King County, less than 10% of people 12 and older currently use marijuana. Among 10th grade students, 16% in King County and 23% in Seattle report current marijuana use according to the Healthy Youth Survey.   

The perception that marijuana use is “popular" or normal among adults and teenagers is a barrier to youth marijuana use prevention.  According to local researchers, perceived peer and adult norms favorable to marijuana use contribute to teenage marijuana use.  If teens perceive that adult marijuana use is widespread and socially acceptable (normal), they may view marijuana use as a way to project a desirable adult image.

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