Daily Cannabis Use Surpasses Alcohol Consumption

The landscape of substance use in the United States is undergoing a significant transformation, as revealed by a recent study examining changes in self-reported cannabis use from 1979 to 2022. For the first time, daily cannabis use has surpassed daily alcohol consumption, marking a pivotal shift in societal behavior and attitudes. Conducted by Jonathan P. Caulkins and published in May 2024, this comprehensive study analyzes data from over 1.6 million participants across 27 national surveys, offering a detailed look at the long-term trends in cannabis use and comparing them with alcohol consumption. The findings not only highlight the evolving patterns of substance use, but also underscore the profound impact of changing policies and cultural attitudes toward cannabis. This blog delves into the study's objectives, methodology, and key findings, providing insights into the implications of this emerging trend for public health and policy.

Historical Context of Cannabis

why is cannabis illegal

Cannabis has a long and complex history that spans thousands of years, encompassing medicinal, recreational, and industrial uses across various cultures. This historical context is crucial for understanding the trends observed in the recent study on cannabis use in the United States.

Ancient and Historical Uses

Ancient Civilizations: Cannabis use dates back to ancient China around 2700 BCE, where it was used medicinally to treat ailments such as rheumatism, malaria, and gout. In India, it was integrated into spiritual practices and Ayurvedic medicine, often consumed in religious rituals.

Egypt and Greece: Ancient Egyptians used cannabis for medicinal purposes and in religious ceremonies. In Greece, it was known for its therapeutic properties and used to alleviate pain and inflammation.

Spread to the Western World

19th Century: Cannabis gained popularity in the Western world during the 19th century. It was included in numerous medicinal products and prescribed for a variety of conditions, including pain, insomnia, and nausea.

Early 20th Century: The early 20th century saw a shift in perception and legal status. The United States began to regulate and criminalize cannabis, culminating in the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which severely restricted its use.

Prohibition and Counterculture

Mid-20th Century: The mid-20th century marked a period of strict prohibition, with cannabis use being heavily penalized. This era, known as the "Reagan-Bush drug war," saw increased criminalization and anti-drug campaigns.

1960s and 1970s: The countercultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s rekindled interest in cannabis, promoting its use as a symbol of rebellion and freedom. This period laid the groundwork for future legalization efforts.

Modern Era and Legalization

1990s to Early 2000s: The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw significant changes in cannabis policy, particularly in the United States. Beginning with state-led initiatives to legalize medical cannabis in the 1990s, public perception began to shift.

2008 Onwards: A more dramatic shift occurred post-2008, marked by federal non-interference with state-level legalization efforts. States like Colorado and Washington led the way by legalizing recreational cannabis in 2012.

Relation to the Study

Decline and Recovery: The study notes a decline in cannabis use during the conservative policies of the 1980s and early 1990s, followed by a recovery and substantial increase in use from the mid-2000s onwards, paralleling the era of state-led legalization and federal non-interference.

Policy Impact: The findings suggest that periods of liberalization are associated with increased cannabis use, while restrictive policies correlate with declines in use. This pattern underscores the influence of policy on substance use behaviors.

By placing the study within the broader historical context of cannabis, it becomes evident how past events and shifting legal frameworks have shaped current trends. Understanding this context helps elucidate the complex dynamics between policy, public perception, and substance use.

Study Objectives

The study titled "Changes in self-reported cannabis use in the United States from 1979 to 2022" had several primary objectives:

Measure Long-Term Trends

The main aim was to measure the long-term trends in cannabis use in the United States over a span of more than four decades, from 1979 to 2022. This included examining how the frequency and intensity of cannabis use have evolved.

Compare Cannabis and Alcohol Use

The study sought to compare trends in cannabis use with those in alcohol use. This comparison aimed to provide a clearer picture of how cannabis consumption patterns stack up against a traditionally widely used substance like alcohol.

Examine Policy Impact

Another objective was to explore the relationship between cannabis use trends and changes in cannabis policy. The study aimed to determine how different policy eras (liberalization, conservative policies, state-led liberalization, and federal non-interference) influenced usage patterns.

Focus on High-Frequency Use

The study aimed to highlight changes in high-frequency use patterns, particularly daily or near-daily use, to understand better the intensity of cannabis consumption among users.

By achieving these objectives, the study aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the shifts in cannabis use, offering insights into the impacts of policy changes and drawing comparisons with alcohol consumption trends. 

Study Methodology

daily cannabis use rising

The study employed a robust methodology, leveraging secondary analysis of extensive survey data to achieve its objectives:

Data Source

The data were drawn from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and its predecessors, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). These surveys provide annual data on substance use and have been conducted consistently since 1979.


The study analyzed data from a total of 1,641,041 participants across 27 surveys conducted between 1979 and 2022. The surveys targeted the general population of the United States, including individuals aged 12 and older.


The primary variables analyzed were the number of days participants reported using cannabis and alcohol in the past 30 days. These measures allowed for an examination of both prevalence and intensity of use.

Key Time Periods

The study focused on four key time periods to contrast trends: 1979 (end of relatively liberal policies of the 1970s), 1992 (end of conservative Reagan-Bush era policies), 2008 (last year before federal non-interference with state-level legalizations), and 2022 (most recent data).

Analytical Approach

The study used univariate tabulations and weighted sums to analyze the data, applying standard sample weights to ensure representativeness. Trends were indexed to 2008 to facilitate comparisons across different time periods. Major survey redesigns in 1999 and 2002, and adjustments for the impact of COVID-19 on survey methodologies, were considered to maintain data continuity and accuracy.

Ethical Considerations

The study followed ethical guidelines for secondary data analysis, ensuring that participant confidentiality and anonymity were maintained. The data used were publicly accessible, reducing the need for additional ethical approvals.

Study Findings

The study yielded several key findings that illustrate significant shifts in cannabis use in the United States over the examined period:

Trends in Cannabis Use

Cannabis use declined to its lowest point in 1992 during the conservative Reagan-Bush era. However, usage rates began to recover by 2008 and saw substantial increases between 2008 and 2022. Between 2008 and 2022, the per capita rate of past-year cannabis use increased by 120%, and the total number of days of use per capita rose by 218%. Daily or near-daily (DND) cannabis use saw a dramatic 15-fold increase from 0.9 million users in 1992 to 17.7 million users in 2022.

Comparison with Alcohol Use

In 1992, daily alcohol users outnumbered daily cannabis users by a ratio of 10:1. By 2022, this trend reversed, with more individuals reporting daily cannabis use (17.7 million) compared to daily alcohol use (14.7 million). High-frequency drinking (21+ days per month) remained relatively stable for alcohol but saw significant increases for cannabis, with 42.3% of past-month cannabis users reporting DND use compared to only 10.9% of past-month alcohol users.

Demographic Shifts

Cannabis use was no longer predominantly a young person's activity. By 2022, individuals aged 35 and older accounted for a substantial share of the total days of cannabis use, reflecting broader acceptance and use across age groups.

Policy Influence

The trends mirrored changes in cannabis policy. Periods of restrictive policies saw declines in use, while liberalization and non-interference policies corresponded with increases in usage rates. The study highlighted that while policy likely influenced these trends, changes in public attitudes and culture towards cannabis also played a significant role.

Health Implications

The rise in high-frequency cannabis use underscores the need for further research into its long-term health effects, both physical and mental. The study did not delve into causal relationships but highlighted the necessity for ongoing monitoring and public health interventions.

These findings provide a comprehensive overview of the dramatic shifts in cannabis use over the past four decades, emphasizing the significant impact of policy changes and cultural shifts on consumption patterns.

Implications and Impact of the Study

more people using weed than alcohol

The study "Changes in self-reported cannabis use in the United States from 1979 to 2022" provides critical insights into the evolving patterns of cannabis use and its implications for public health, policy, and society. Here are the key implications and impacts of the study:

Public Health Implications

Health Risks and Benefits:

The significant increase in daily or near-daily cannabis use raises concerns about potential health risks, including respiratory issues, mental health problems, and cognitive impairment. On the other hand, some users report benefits such as pain relief and reduced symptoms of chronic conditions. Public health campaigns need to balance messaging about the benefits and risks of cannabis use, particularly focusing on the potential long-term impacts of high-frequency use.

Addiction and Dependency:

The rise in high-frequency use underscores the need for increased awareness and resources to address cannabis use disorder. Public health services should be prepared to offer support and treatment for those struggling with dependency. Comparisons with alcohol use suggest that while fewer people may develop a dependency on cannabis than alcohol, the growing number of daily users warrants attention and proactive measures.

Mental Health:

The study found higher rates of anxiety and depression among daily marijuana users compared to occasional users and those who primarily consume alcohol. This highlights the importance of integrating mental health services with substance use treatment programs.

Policy Implications

Regulation and Legalization:

The correlation between periods of policy liberalization and increased cannabis use suggests that regulatory frameworks must carefully consider the balance between accessibility and control. Policymakers should focus on ensuring safe and regulated access while mitigating potential misuse. Ongoing evaluation and adjustment of cannabis policies are crucial to respond to emerging trends and data. This includes monitoring the impacts of legalization on public health and safety.

Education and Prevention:

There is a need for comprehensive education programs to inform the public about responsible cannabis use, potential health risks, and the legal implications of use. These programs should target various demographics, especially younger adults who show higher rates of use. Prevention efforts should be strengthened to discourage initiation of use among adolescents and support early intervention strategies for those at risk of developing cannabis use disorders.

Economic Impact:

Legalization and increased cannabis use have significant economic implications, including potential tax revenue from cannabis sales and the costs associated with public health interventions. Policymakers must consider these factors in their economic planning and resource allocation.

Societal Impact

Social Norms and Perceptions:

The normalization of daily marijuana use reflects changing societal attitudes toward cannabis. While this can reduce stigma and promote open discussions about use, it also necessitates careful public discourse to ensure that potential risks are not downplayed.

Workplace and Educational Institutions:

The rise in cannabis use has implications for workplace policies and educational institutions. Employers and educators need to update their substance use policies to reflect current trends and ensure that they address potential productivity and safety concerns.

Implementing support systems and educational programs within workplaces and schools can help manage the impact of increased cannabis use and promote healthy behaviors.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice:

Shifts in cannabis use patterns and legalization efforts necessitate adjustments in law enforcement and criminal justice approaches. Decriminalization and legalization efforts can reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and redirect resources towards more critical public safety issues.

Ensuring that legal frameworks are equitable and do not disproportionately impact marginalized communities is essential for fair and just implementation of cannabis policies.

The study provides valuable insights into the long-term trends in cannabis use and their implications for public health, policy, and society. By understanding these patterns and their impacts, stakeholders can develop informed strategies to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving landscape of cannabis use. This balanced approach will help maximize benefits while minimizing potential harms, fostering a healthier and more informed society.


The study "Changes in self-reported cannabis use in the United States from 1979 to 2022" highlights a transformative shift in substance use patterns, with daily marijuana consumption now surpassing that of alcohol. This significant change reflects broader societal trends, including evolving perceptions, increased legalization, and changes in policy. The implications of these findings are far-reaching, impacting public health, policy, and social norms.

This study underscores the importance of ongoing research and data collection to understand the long-term impacts of cannabis use fully. By integrating these insights into policy and practice, society can navigate the complexities of this evolving landscape, fostering an environment where the benefits of cannabis are maximized, and the risks are minimized. As cannabis use becomes more prevalent, a nuanced and informed approach will be crucial in ensuring the well-being of individuals and communities.

E1011 Labs' Perspective: Embracing the Future with the Iven Dry Herb Vaporizer

dry herb vaporizer for cannabis flower

As daily cannabis use continues to rise, it's essential to consider the methods of consumption that promote both health and enjoyment. At E1011 Labs, we are dedicated to advancing cannabis consumption through innovative, health-conscious technology. Our IVEN dry herb vaporizer represents a significant leap forward in how users can enjoy cannabis safely and effectively.

The Benefits of Using Dry Herb Vaporizers

Healthier Alternative to Smoking:

Reduced Harmful Toxins: Traditional smoking methods, such as joints or pipes, involve combustion, which produces harmful toxins and carcinogens. The Iven dry herb vaporizer heats cannabis at lower temperatures, releasing cannabinoids and terpenes without burning the plant material. This process significantly reduces the intake of harmful byproducts, offering a cleaner and healthier way to consume cannabis.

Improved Respiratory Health: By eliminating combustion, dry herb vaporizers like IVEN help protect users' respiratory health. Vaporizing cannabis can mitigate respiratory issues associated with smoking, such as bronchitis and chronic cough, making it a safer option for daily users.

Enhanced Experience and Efficiency

Precise Temperature Control: The Iven vaporizer features advanced temperature control settings that allow users to customize their experience. Different cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at specific temperatures, and the ability to adjust the heat ensures users can target the compounds they desire, enhancing both flavor and effect.

Maximized Cannabinoid Extraction: Vaporizing is more efficient in extracting cannabinoids compared to smoking. This means users can achieve their desired effects using less cannabis, making it a cost-effective and sustainable option.

Discreet and Convenient

Portable and User-Friendly: The Iven vaporizer is designed with portability and ease of use in mind. Its sleek, compact design allows for discreet consumption on the go, making it perfect for daily use without drawing unnecessary attention.

Easy Maintenance: The Iven vaporizer is easy to clean and maintain, ensuring a consistently high-quality experience. Unlike traditional methods that can become clogged and dirty, vaporizing with IVEN keeps the process clean and hassle-free.

Embracing a Healthier Future with Iven

At E1011 Labs, we believe that as cannabis use becomes more integrated into daily life, the methods of consumption should evolve to prioritize user health and satisfaction. The Iven dry herb vaporizer is not just a device; it's a step towards a healthier, more sustainable way of enjoying cannabis. By choosing vaporization, users can experience the full benefits of cannabis while minimizing potential health risks.

As the landscape of cannabis consumption continues to change, E1011 Labs remains at the forefront, innovating and advocating for safer, more effective consumption methods. The rise in daily cannabis use presents an opportunity to educate users about the advantages of vaporization and to encourage the adoption of healthier habits. With Iven, we are committed to leading this change and supporting our community in their cannabis journey.