Slowly but surely, Americans are kicking their cigarette habits and picking up joints instead.
Reported cannabis use is at an all-time high, according to results of a Gallup poll released Monday. Since states began legalizing small amounts of cannabis for adults in 2012, the number of American adults admitting to using marijuana nearly doubled, from 7 percent in 2013 to 13 percent earlier this summer.
That’s “such a large spike” in marijuana use that cannabis consumption “could overtake” tobacco use in a matter of a few more years, the Christian Science Monitor is predicting.
So much for just saying no.
Consider: there are now 33 million cannabis users in America, if the 13 percent figure is to be trusted. And with tobacco use finally plummeting after decades of awareness of smoking’s terrible toll on health — not to mention public education campaigns, often funded by the cigarette tax — the number of tobacco users has dropped to 40 million.
If these two trends continue, there could be more cannabis users than tobacco users in America by 2020.
It’s still not entirely clear if more Americans are trying cannabis as more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, or if Americans are finally willing to be honest about their use.
A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and a vast majority of Americans support allowing sick people to access medical cannabis. At the same time, more and more lawmakers are pushing for cannabis-friendly policies, so there’s no doubt the general atmosphere in the country is more welcoming to cannabis than ever before.
Then again, cannabis use has risen steadily over the past four decades, even as the federal government cracked down hard. Only 11 percent of Americans had tried the drug when Gallup first asked the question in the early 1970s, prior to the passage of the Controlled Substances Act. Several decades later, that number rose to 43 percent.
Meanwhile, five more states are slated to vote on whether to legalize small amounts of recreational cannabis for adults: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona.
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