Marijuana statistics show that the drug was the most used illegal drug in the United States, as of 2009. The marijuana statistics show that use of the drug has been increasing among teenagers and that the strength of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been increasing as well. The drug comes from the buds and leaves of the Cannabis sativa, or hemp plant. While other types of hemp plants, those used to produce clothing and fibers, do not contain THC, people cannot grow them in the United States, since the plants with THC are difficult to distinguish from plants without THC.
Here are some marijuana use and abuse statistics:
- In 2009, nearly seventeen million people used marijuana. According to surveys, that many people over age twelve had used the drug within the past month. The number is more than twice as high as the number of people who used psychotheraupetic drugs illegally and more than ten times as high as the number of people who used cocaine.
- Use of marijuana rose among teenagers and young adults between the years 2008 and 2009 in the United States. In 2008, about nineteen percent of people surveyed who were between eighteen and 25 years old had used the drug. In 2009, 21 percent of eighteen to 25 year-olds had used marijuana.
- The amount of THC in marijuana has risen steeply since the 1980s. In 1984, the average batch of marijuana seized by the United States contained just under four percent THC. By 1998, the potency had risen to about five percent. By 2009, that number had doubled to ten percent.
- As more people use marijuana, perception of it has a harmful drug has fallen. In 1991, nearly 90 percent of teenagers in grades eight to twelve surveyed said they believed that using marijuana presented a "great risk." By 2009, the number of eigth graders who believed that using marijuana was very risky had fallen to 70 percent while only about 55 percent of twelfth graders believed it was risky.
- Growing marijuana outdoors presents a risk to the environment. Growth of the weed destroys natural habitats as pesticide use destroys native species.