WHO USES MARIJUANA?
Globally, between 125 million and 200 million people use marijuana in the course of a year; that’s 3–4 percent of the world’s population aged 15 to 64, making cannabis by far the most widely used illicit substance. The amphetamine-type stimulants and the opioids come next, each with about a fifth as many users as marijuana. The prevalence of marijuana use in the United States is about three times the global average, though less out of line compared with other Western democracies. With almost 30 million Americans reporting use in the past year, marijuana use dwarfs that of any other illicit substance, and is dwarfed in turn by alcohol use.
Many American adolescents consume marijuana; 44 percent of 12th graders have tried the drug at least once, and 6 percent are daily users. The typical person who takes up smoking marijuana has just turned 16. This is similar to the typical age of first alcohol use, but lower than the initiation ages for other illicit drugs (for example, the median starting age for both cocaine and MDMA is 20). Marijuana use is highest among 18–25 year olds; their past-year rate (31 percent) is three times the U.S. average.
While national survey data show large numbers of marijuana users, the true number is even higher, because some