In recent years, there has been a significant shift in drug usage habits in the United States. According to a national survey, regular cannabis use has surpassed frequent alcohol consumption for the first time. This data comes from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which has been collecting information on drug use patterns since 1979. The survey compared trends in alcohol and cannabis use among teens and adults, revealing a major change in behavior over the years.

The analysis conducted by public health policy researcher Jonathan Caulkins highlights the evolving landscape of drug use in the country. He compared data from milestone years, such as 1979, 1992, and 2008, with the most recent information available from 2022. The findings indicate a steady increase in daily or near-daily cannabis use since 1992, while high-frequency drinking has become less common. This shift is particularly noticeable among young Americans, who have been using less alcohol and more cannabis over the past two decades.

Several factors have contributed to this shift in drug consumption habits. Policy changes over the years, including the expansion of medical cannabis since 1993, have played a significant role in altering attitudes towards cannabis. The more liberal approach towards marijuana legalization has also had an impact on the increasing acceptance and use of the drug. Cultural changes and evolving perceptions of cannabis and alcohol have further influenced this trend, reflecting a broader societal shift in drug preferences.

The data suggests that the legalization of cannabis has fundamentally transformed the scale of drug use in the United States. With the easing of federal restrictions on cannabis by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in 2024, the drug has been reclassified in the same category as painkillers. This move is expected to further normalize the use of cannabis and potentially lead to even greater shifts in drug consumption patterns in the coming years.

The shift from alcohol to cannabis in the United States underscores the changing landscape of drug use in the country. The increasing prevalence of daily or near-daily cannabis use, coupled with the decreasing rates of high-frequency drinking, reflects a broader trend towards the acceptance and normalization of marijuana. As policy changes continue to shape drug regulations, it will be interesting to see how these shifts evolve and impact societal attitudes towards drug use in the future.


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