As recreational cannabis became legal in more states, the use of marijuana and some hallucinogens reached record levels, says a report funded by the National Institutes of Health. Nearly 43 percent of young people said they used marijuana in the past 12 months, up from 29 percent in 2011 and nearly 34 percent in 2016, found the Monitoring the Future study by the University of Michigan, which surveyed nearly 5,000 young adults between 19 and 30 years old, the Washington Post reports. More than one in ten were “daily” consumers, using marijuana 20 times or more in the past 30 days. Although the rates were not a significant jump from 2020, they were the “highest levels ever recorded since the indices were first available in 1988.” Use of hallucinogens other than LSD, known as acid, also reached record levels, with more than six percent of young people saying they had used them in the past 12 months. MDMA, sometimes called ecstasy or Molly, was the exception with 2.6 percent of young adults using the drug in the past year. Alcohol remains the most used substance among adults. Levels of “high-intensity” drinking, defined as having 10 or more drinks in a row, have risen over the past decade. In the same time frame, the number of young people who said they consumed alcohol in the past year has fallen from nearly 84 percent in 2011 to just under 82 percent in 2021.
The annual survey allowed researchers to “assess the effects of ‘natural experiments’ like the pandemic,” said University of Michigan Prof. Megan Patrick, the study’s lead investigator. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “We need to know more about how young adults are using drugs like marijuana and hallucinogens, and the health effects that result from consuming different potencies and forms of these substances.” The effects of hallucinogens have been researched to see their potential uses in medical contexts. Studies show promise in treatments for anxiety, depression, PTSD and addiction. MDMA and psilocybin could be approved as therapeutics within the next two years, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services. Sometimes called psychedelics, hallucinogens are illegal in the U.S., though some cities have decriminalized or legalized magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin. Recreational marijuana is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia,. New Mexico, Connecticut, New York and Virginia moved to legalize recreational cannabis last year. Rhode Island did so in May.