Are more people becoming dependent on marijuana?


In a word: no.

Fewer than 10% of those who try marijuana ever end up meeting the clinical criteria for dependence, whereas 32% of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users do.

Why are Treatment Rates Increasing?

Some people argue that rates of marijuana dependence are increasing because marijuana treatment admissions are increasing. However, there are other factors at play.

More referrals instead of jail
The primary reason we’re seeing an increase in admissions is that the criminal justice system is referring more people to treatment instead of jail or prison, because of policies implemented over the past two decades to stem the skyrocketing U.S. prison population.

That’s why just 45% of people who enter marijuana treatment meet the official criteria for marijuana dependence. More than a third hadn’t even used marijuana in the 30 days prior to admission. When given the choice between treatment and jail, however, most people will choose treatment regardless of whether they’re struggling with addiction.

Less stigma
The removal of criminal barriers and creation of legitimate markets for obtaining marijuana has destigmatized marijuana use. Thus, marijuana users are more likely to seek substance abuse treatment, with less concern about the social and criminal consequences of outing themselves.

Even though marijuana is becoming more acceptable, there is no evidence of an increase in levels of marijuana dependence in the general population.


What do you think?

People deserve accurate, non-judgmental information about marijuana and other drugs

In order to stay safe, we need to understand both the effects of drugs and the policies that surround them.

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Shelley's Story

Marijuana: The Facts

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) supports information and polices related to marijuana that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. Safety is our top priority, especially when it comes to young people.
This booklet provides brief answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions about marijuana. We hope it will help you better understand this plant and its effects.