Thursday, December 19, 2013

Understanding the current marijuana market

The RAND Drug Policy Research Center released a report this week about our state's current marijuana market.  Most of the media attention about the report focuses on the finding that pot consumption among Washingtonians is higher than previously thought.  Other findings include:

Adult & Youth Access: 
The primary way that adults and youth who use marijuana get marijuana is through friends.  Friends provide marijuana to adults for free and for purchase -- about 80% of adults who purchase marijuana get it from friends.  Sixty-eight percent of Seattle high school students who use marijuana report getting it from a friend and 38% report consuming marijuana that came from a dispensary.  The report notes, "It is not surprising that such a large number of marijuana users in Seattle's public high schools report consuming marijuana that came from a dispensary; there are a lot of dispensaries in the Seattle Metro Area."  

Age: About 12% of current marijuana consumers are 12 to 17 years old and about one-third are between 18 and 25 years old.  One-third of "heavy" users (those who use 21-30 days per month) are 25 years old and younger.

Use Rates: 
Washington past month marijuana use rates rose by about 40% between 2008 and 2011 while use rates increased by about 10% nationally during that time.  People who grow marijuana consume "considerably greater" amounts of the drug than others.  King County residents account for 30% of all marijuana consumers in the state.

Low-potency marijuana that was the norm prior to 2000 accounts for a small share of the current marijuana market in Washington.  It is likely that the marijuana used in our state is more potent than marijuana used in other states. Forty percent of past month marijuana users and 52% of heavy users report consuming/"dabbing" concentrates (hash oils) with very high THC levels.

Interaction with Tobacco & Alcohol: 
Heavy marijuana users smoke tobacco at higher rates than non-heavy users.  Alcohol use among marijuana users is more prevalent than among the general population.  Alcohol use seems to increase with the amount of marijuana consumed.

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