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Mixed News on Marijuana Use


November 1994

A new report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) finds that marijuana use was up in 1992 in the U.S. in some segments of the population but steady or declining in others (Andrew Lockwood Chalsma and David Boyum, "Marijuana Situation Assessment," Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sept. 1994).

The study compiles and evaluates information from a number of recent studies on marijuana: the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the Monitoring the Future Study, the PRIDE survey, the Drug Use Forecasting Program (DUF), and the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

Most studies have found marijuana use declining since 1979, but according to the ONDCP "this downward trend has slowed, and perhaps even reversed course, among certain sectors of the population." Since 1991, for example, more eighth graders have reported using marijuana within the past month. Since 1992, those numbers have increased for tenth and twelfth graders. In addition, the percentage of those testing positive for marijuana increased in 1992 for the first time in years.

The report estimates consumption by weight and value:

Estimated U.S. Marijuana Consumption
in 1988, 1990-1992 by Subpopulation

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992
Households* 1,871 -- 1,528 1,326 1,220
College Students* 77 -- 59 -- --
Criminally Active* 375 -- 363 358 379
Total* 2,323 -- 1,950 1,684 1,599
Total° 102 -- 94 81 84
Retail Cost^ $14.0 -- $14.4 $13.2 $13.1
Retail Cost# $16.6 -- $15.5 $13.5 $13.1

* In Gross Metric Tons.
° In Metric Tons of THC.
^ In Billions (nominal dollars).
# In Billions (1992 dollars).
Note: The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse was not conducted in 1989.

The authors of the ONDCP report suggest that changing attitudes about marijuana may be responsible for increased reporting of marijuana use. Study data show that the number of people reporting that they disapprove of occasional and regular marijuana use of marijuana seems to be declining thus reducing the inhibition against reporting use. The authors find no changes in the availability of marijuana that might account for trends in marijuana use.

[To obtain a copy of this report, call the Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse at 1-800-666-3332.]