In spite of increasingly relaxed marijuana laws in many places, a new federal study found that nearly 75 million people aged 12 or older, about two in seven, “perceived great risk of harm” from using marijuana once a month, reports USA Today. The states with the highest percentages of perception of risk were all from the South — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Alabama, Louisiana and Texas were among the states with the lowest use rate. The study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an in-depth examination of U.S. marijuana use, as well as data regarding the public’s perception of the risks associated with the drug. Using data collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2012 to 2014, the agency analyzed various regions around the country and within states.
The study found that 20.3 million people 12 or older used marijuana in the past month, about 1 in 13 people over the age of 12. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, but 23 states and D.C. have legalized forms of medical marijuana while an additional 14 have taken measures to decriminalize the drug. In the November elections, eight states will have the option to legalize either recreational or medical cannabis. Voters in five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — are considering recreational marijuana, while three more — Arkansas, Florida and Missouri — could legalize medicinal cannabis.