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Rise In Marijuana Use Is Not As Big As Previously Thought

Update Date: Feb 12, 2016 11:56 AM EST

About 12.5 percent of adults in the United States used marijuana drug at least once in 2013. Yet the Washington University School of Medicine researchers say that the increase in the drug abuse is not as dramatically high as thought. While earlier, a study showed that marijuana use has doubled from 2002 to 2013, there are now reports that claim that this news is false, while "problems" regarding the use of the drug are steady and stable.

The increase has gone up to 20 percent between 2002  and 2013. Pot-related problems, such as addiction, are either the same or have decreased. But even though the percentage of pot-smoking adults was said to have shot up by two times, the number of people who used the drug in 2013 was higher. It was 12.5 percent, as compared to the earlier 9.5 percent.

"It's not surprising that marijuana use is on the rise - several states have legalized it for either medicinal or recreational use - but our data suggest that the use rate hasn't come close to doubling," Richard Grucza, first author of the study, said in a press release. "That doesn't mean there are no problems. The two studies agree that close to one in 10 adults use the drug. The difference is that we believe the 2002 survey for the other study underestimated the percentage of adults using the drug."

The difference and discrepancy are probably due to the difference in data collection method. While earlier, the team had face-to-face interviews, the new study used information from computer surveys.

"Data from face-to-face surveys previously have been demonstrated to be more sensitive to social attitudes than data collected anonymously," Grucza said. "People may say one thing to an interviewer but something else on an anonymous computer survey, particularly when the questions deal with an illegal substance."

Hence, there is an increase in marijuana-related problems. But Grucza's study found no change.

"We're certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use," Grucza said. "But our survey didn't notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling."

The findings were published in Feb. 10,2016 issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

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