Book:Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States/Overview of the cannabis industry in the United States/Medical and recreational use

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1.2 Medical and recreational use

In its 2022 World Drug Report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that more than four percent of the global population—roughly 209 million people—used cannabis in 2020.[1] Focusing in on the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated that in 2020 the country had 49.6 million past-year marijuana users.[2] It's not clear if that total includes legal medical marijuana users, which numbered roughly 4.3 million by the end of December 2020 according to non-profit Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).[3] When compared to SAMHSA's estimate of 11.1 million users in 1997[4], it becomes clear that reported marijuana use has increased in the United States over the past few decades, whether it's through legalization efforts or otherwise. Some have pointed to the expansion of medical marijuana laws acting as gateways for increased adolescent use; however, multiple studies have tried but failed to find such a cause and effect relationship.[5][6][7] Regardless, with 38 U.S. states and D.C. now having some type of legalization law on the books[8], the number of marijuana users isn't likely to decrease any time soon in the U.S.


  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (June 2022). "World Drug Report 2022: Global Overview of Drug Demand and Supply" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 08 July 2022. 
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (October 2021). "Results from The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use And Health". In RTI International (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 08 July 2022. 
  3. "Medical Marijuana Patient Numbers". Marijuana Policy Project. 2 December 2020. Archived from the original on 09 May 2021. Retrieved 08 July 2022. 
  4. Rabkin, N.J. (July 1999). Drug Control: DEA's Strategies and Operations in the 1990s. U.S. General Accounting Office. pp. 172. ISBN 9780788184833. 
  5. Hasin, D.S.; Wall, M.; Keyes, K.M. et al. (2015). "Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: Results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys". The Lancet Psychiatry 2 (7): 601–608. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00217-5. 
  6. Wall, M.M.; Poh, E.; Cerdá, M. (2011). "Adolescent Marijuana Use from 2002 to 2008: Higher in States with Medical Marijuana Laws, Cause Still Unclear". Annals of Epidemiology 21 (9): 714–716. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.06.001. PMC PMC3358137. PMID 21820632. 
  7. Harper, S.; Strumpf, E.C.; Kaufman, J.S. (2012). "Do Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Marijuana Use? Replication Study and Extension". Annals of Epidemiology 22 (3): 207–212. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.12.002. PMID 22285867. 
  8. Berke, J.; Gal, S.; Lee, Y.J. (6 January 2021). "Marijuana legalization is sweeping the US. See every state where cannabis is legal". Business Insider. Insider, Inc. Retrieved 08 July 2022.