Marijuana Use in the United States: Trends in Consumption

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Marijuana use is on the rise in America. This lesson will discuss trends in the consumption of marijuana and will end with a short quiz to test what you have learned.

Marijuana Specifics

Pot. Weed. Herb. Mary Jane. Smoke. Marijuana goes by many different names, but they all represent the same substance. Marijuana is a drug that comes from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant, also known as the hemp plant.

There are a couple of different ways to ingest marijuana. Marijuana can be smoked or consumed orally through food and beverages. The plant can also be processed into oil form. The oil is often extracted from the marijuana plant and concentrated; it is consumed orally and is reported to ease symptoms of pain and nausea that result from various diseases.

Marijuana is classified as a hallucinogen. Chemicals in hallucinogens affect the brain to create feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and heightened sensory experiences. The chemical in marijuana that creates these hallucinogenic effects is THC. The technical name for THC is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is but one of the chemical compound in the hemp plant.

Additionally, Marijuana can also cause changes in appetite and sleep patterns. It will typically increase one's appetite and, because of its relaxing effect, allow for better rest.

A Flowering Marijuana Plant
blooming marijuana plant

Marijuana Controversy

You have probably heard recent debates regarding the legalization of marijuana and the related controversy over the use of medical marijuana. These issues have been hotly debated on the streets and throughout the courthouses of America. As of June 2015, twenty-three states have legalized the use of marijuana in various forms.

In some states, marijuana has been approved for medicinal, or medical use, while others have legalized recreational, or ''just for fun,'' use as well. The state of Colorado permits the commercial sale of limited amounts of marijuana to residents and nonresidents alike. The state of Oregon is expected to follow in Colorado's footsteps in terms of commercial marijuana sales and Washington, D. C. may not be far behind.

No matter what side of the issue you are on, most polls indicate that a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.

Trends in Consumption

As the debate over marijuana usage and legalization has heated up, overall consumption has increased. Marijuana usage has steadily climbed since data collection began in the early twentieth century. More specifically, nearly half of the people surveyed in a 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center admitted to using marijuana in their lifetime. The same study found that over ten percent of people surveyed had used marijuana at some point in the previous year.

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