A study published this month in the Journal of Drug Issues found that the proportion of marijuana users who smoke daily has rapidly grown, and that many of those frequent users are poor and lack a high-school diploma, reports the Washington Post. Examining a decade of federal surveys of drug use conducted between 2002 and 2013, study authors Steven Davenport and Jonathan Caulkins paint one of the clearest pictures yet of the demographics of current marijuana use in the U.S. They found that the profile of marijuana users is much closer to cigarette smokers than alcohol drinkers, and that a handful of users consume much of the marijuana used in the U.S. “In the early 1990s only one in nine past-month [marijuana] users reported using daily or near-daily,” Davenport and Caulkins write. “Now it is fully one in three. Daily or near-daily users now account for over two-thirds of self-reported days of use (68 percent).”
These usage patterns are similar to those of tobacco users. “What’s going on here is that over the last 20 years marijuana went from being used like alcohol to being used more like tobacco, in the sense of lots of people using it every day,” Caulkins told the Post. Adults with less than a high school education accounted for 19 percent of all marijuana use in 2012 and 2013 (compared to 13 percent of the total adult population), according to the survey. This is similar to their 20 percent share of all cigarette use, but considerably higher than their 8 percent share of all alcohol use. Americans of all ages with a household income of less than $20,000 accounted for 29 percent of all marijuana use and 27 percent of all cigarette use, compared to only 13 percent of all alcohol use and 19 percent of the total adult population. The concentration of use among poorer households means that many marijuana users spend a high proportion of their income on their marijuana habit.