Survey Finds Lower-Income, Less-Educated Americans Have Highest Rates of Regular Cannabis Use

by State Brief

Lower-income and less-educated Americans use cannabis more regularly than other demographic groups.

A new survey from Gallup studied the cannabis use pattern of adults in the United States and noted the distinctions between different education levels and incomes.

On average, 9% of adults use some form of cannabis 10 or more days a month. Approximately 13% of adults with a high school level education or less use cannabis 10 or more days a month. Adults who have some level of college education, an associate’s degree, or who have some technical training had the second highest rate of cannabis use – 11%.

Regular cannabis use was least common among adults with a college degree (7%) and a postgraduate degree (5%).

Gallup also found that regular cannabis use decreases as a person’s income increases. Around 16% of those who make less than $24,000 a year use cannabis 10 or more times a month. That rate declined to just 11% of people who make between $48,000 and $60,000 or between $60,000 and $90,000 annually. As of 2022, the average household income in the United States was $74,580. The lowest rates of regular cannabis use were among people who had a household income between $120,000 and $180,000 (7%) and over $180,000 (5%).

Gallup used an online survey to conduct its data. The survey asked respondents “Keeping in mind that this is confidential, how many days in the last month have you used cannabis products (such as smoking marijuana, vaping liquid THC, or consuming baked goods or gummies) to alter your mood and help you relax?”

Researchers also found that men are more likely to use cannabis than women and that usage decreases with age. 

“The highest rates of use (11%) are found in the Middle Atlantic (New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and East North Central divisions (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio),” states the survey analysis. “The lowest usage rates (7%) are reported in the East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama) and the West North Central (North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri) divisions.”

As of April of 2024, marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 37 states and for recreational use in 23 states and Washington, D.C.

“In states that have legalized marijuana: average of 2.9 days of cannabis consumption per month per person, with 9.7% regular users,” reports Gallup. “In states that have not legalized marijuana: average of 2.5 days of cannabis consumption per month per person, with 8.6% regular users.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three of every 10 marijuana users have a marijuana use disorder.

“Marijuana use directly affects the brain, specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision-making, coordination, emotion, and reaction time. Infants, children, and teens (who still have developing brains) are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of marijuana,” said the CDC. “Long-term or frequent marijuana use has been linked to increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.”

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