This will likely come as no surprise to most people, even if they didn’t see the recent news reports on the research: More people are using marijuana, more frequently than ever.

It’s an entirely predictable outcome of marijuana legalization, now in place in 24 states. Some 17.7 million people use marijuana daily or almost daily, which is more than the 14.7 million people who use alcohol daily or on a near-daily basis, according to an analysis of 2022 results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey has been in use since 1979, but these latest results mark the first time that more people reported daily pot use than daily drinking.

Advocates of marijuana legalization are quick to cite its benefits. Recreational cannabis sales bring much-needed tax revenue to cash-hungry state governments; Illinois raked in $417.6 million in cannabis sales tax revenue in 2023. Legalization also is a blow to the war on drugs and its disproportionate impact on impoverished Black and Latino communities. There’s no going back to prohibition, especially now that the Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed removing marijuana from its Schedule 1 classification of far more dangerous drugs, such as heroin and ecstasy.

Even so, there are obvious reasons to be concerned about the growing heavy use of marijuana. “Safer than alcohol” is the conventional wisdom, but that doesn’t mean “without risk.”

Daily marijuana use can increase the risk of developing cannabis-associated psychosis, according to Dr. David A. Gorelick of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Heavy marijuana use has also been linked to heart problems. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that the more often someone smoked pot, the greater their risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke: Daily users had a 25% higher risk of having a heart attack and a 42% higher risk of experiencing a stroke.

It’s also alarming that just as more people are reporting using pot daily, more people are reporting “driving while high” (which explains why you’re smelling pot smoke wafting from the open windows of drivers while sitting in traffic or waiting at a pedestrian crosswalk).

An eye-opening 12 million people age 16 and over reported driving while under the influence of marijuana in 2018, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis. Those ages 21 to 25 were most likely to report driving under the influence of pot.

Millions of people drinking daily was already a problem. Millions more getting high every day is another. But recreational marijuana is here to stay. Adults have to be smart about the risks of how much, and how often, they use pot.

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 Millions of people drinking daily was already a problem, and millions more now getting high is another. Adults have to be smart about the risks of heavy cannabis use.  Read More