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Daily cannabis use eclipses daily drinking in the US

In a further indication of shifting consumer habits, there are now more people who use cannabis than alcohol on a daily basis in the US, according to a recent study.

The research, published in the journal Addiction, looked at self-reported cannabis use between 1979 and 2022, with 1,641,041 participants across 27 surveys.

Study author Jonathan Caulkins, who is a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noted how things have developed since the “nadir” of cannabis use in 1992: “Whereas the 1992 survey recorded 10 times as many daily or near daily alcohol as cannabis users (8.9 vs. 0.9 million), the 2022 survey, for the first time, recorded more daily and near daily users of cannabis than alcohol (17.7 vs. 14.7 million).”

The current US population of drinking age (21 and above) is in the region of 290 million.

“Far more people drink, but high-frequency drinking is less common,” Caulkins continued. “In 2022, the median drinker reported drinking on 4–5 days in the past month, versus 15–16 days in the past month for cannabis. In 2022, past-month cannabis consumers were almost four times as likely to report daily or near daily use (42.3% vs. 10.9%) and 7.4 times more likely to report daily use (28.2% vs. 3.8%).”

Caulkins noted that the cultural shift towards cannabis use becoming more acceptable may have played a role in the study’s findings: “Willingness to self-report may have increased as cannabis became normalised, so changes in actual use may be less pronounced than changes in reported use.”

He also suggested that “changes in policy” have resulted in the shift, with the recreational use of the drug legal in 24 states, and medicinal use in 40.

It should also be seen as a generational shift away from drinking. According to findings presented at the Delle Venezie DOC International Forum last year, 54% of drinking age Gen Z Americans (those born between 1996 and 2010) abstain from alcohol – a trend that has left the drinks industry in a state of panic over the loss of its consumer base.

However, one potential angle for the trade is the THC drinks category, with President Joe Biden’s planned reforms potentially causing a seismic shift.

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