A statewide study of marijuana use among Massachusetts residents released last week found that about 21 percent of adults had used marijuana in the past 30 days and that the proportion of marijuana use was highest among 18-to-25 year-olds.
The study, conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), was mandated by the Legislature as part of its revisions to the 2016 adult-use marijuana law. The purpose of the study was to investigate the patterns of use, methods of consumption, and general perceptions of marijuana; incidents of impaired driving and hospitalization related to marijuana use; and the economic and fiscal impacts for state and local governments.
“The study establishes a baseline measurement of how marijuana is used and how that affects public health, public safety, and potential revenue in the state before adult-use marijuana becomes widely available,” said Marc A. Nascarella, Ph.D., the study’s Principal Investigator at DPH. “We were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an exceptional group of collaborators – from academic researchers and private researchers to state agency experts in this multiyear investigation.”
Among the study’s other highlights:
- Smoking is the most common method of marijuana consumption, although more than 40 percent of marijuana users report using multiple methods of use. More than half of adults perceive marijuana to have slight or no risks and use marijuana for non-medical purposes.
- A survey of patients who use marijuana products for medical use suggests that the average person uses marijuana 24 days a month, with the majority using marijuana products for at least 21 out of the past 30 days.
Among respondents that use marijuana, 34.3 percent reported driving under the influence. Overall, 7.2 percent of the adult population drove under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days, and 11.3 percent of adults rode with a marijuana-using driver in the past 30 days. This is similar to estimates from a survey of medical marijuana patients that found approximately 10% of respondents drove under the influence in the past 30 days.
- The number of marijuana-related calls to the Regional Poison Control Center in Massachusetts has been increasing over time. The calls include incidents of unintentional exposures among children, with the majority of calls related to 10-to-19-year-old individuals, and/or exposure to dried marijuana flower. The proportion of calls increased after medical marijuana was available in the Commonwealth.
- Economic projections suggest that marijuana will increase Massachusetts state revenue by about $215.8 million in the first two years of retail sales. The increase will largely come from sales and excise taxes collected on retail purchases.
- Based on experiences from states with existing legalized adult use, sales tax revenue will be higher in the second year ($154.2 million), as compared to the first year ($61.6 million).
The study began in early 2017 and was conducted by DPH, in consultation with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
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