By Steven S. Epstein

This summer the federal government released “State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” It’s a state- by-state (including the District of Columbia) estimate of self-reported licit and illicit substance use and perceptions. This publication may be downloaded from: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k9state/Cover.pdf.

Once again, Massachusetts ranks in the top ten in all marijuana categories, joined by Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Connecticut does make the top ten in some categories.

As the survey data relies on self reporting, perhaps the most important survey question is not past year and past month use which respondents may be unwilling to answer accurately, but the data gathered asking “perception of Great Risk of Smoking Once a Month.” Answering this question in the negative does not imply one is a consumer.

Surprisingly absent from most of the top ten cohorts are California and Washington, two states in which initiatives to “legalize” are working their way toward the November 2012 ballot.

Conducted by the Federal Government since 1971, the survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence. The survey is planned and managed by SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), formerly SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies.

The survey covers residents of households, noninstitutional group quarters (e.g., shelters, rooming houses, dormitories), and civilians living on military bases. Persons excluded from the survey include homeless people who do not use shelters, active military personnel, and residents of institutional group quarters, such as prisons and long-term hospitals.

Commenting on the survey results in a recent blog post on NORML.ORG, NORML’s Deputy Director, Paul Armentano, wrote:

  • Þ The findings are notable because they are consistent from previous years and provide plenty of fodder for combating numerous drug warrior myths and stereotypes (such as the notion that high rates of illicit drug use – yes, the New England states lead in this broader category too – are typically relegated to poorer, urban, more racially diverse areas).
  • Þ They also call into question the notion that marijuana use among the general population is in any way influenced by the legal status of marijuana. State criminal penalties for cannabis vary widely across the New England states. For instance, Maine’s decriminalization law (possession of up to 2.5 ounces is a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine) is among the most liberal in the country. Conversely, New Hampshire (up to one year in jail) and Rhode Island (up to one year in jail and a six month driver’s license suspension) maintain relatively strict penalties. Yet regardless of state law, marijuana use remains similar throughout the region. Ed. Note: Massachusetts’ decrim had barely taken affect when the 2009 data was collected.
  • Þ Likewise, nationally, Mississippi and Nebraska – which enjoy some of the most liberal marijuana laws (simple possession is a summons and a civil violation, respectively) – also rank among the lowest rates of self-reported cannabis use.

 

 

Past Year Use

 

Past Month Use

 

Perception of Great Risk

12+

 

12+

 

12+

 1

Alaska 16.29  

1

Alaska

11.53

 

1

New Hampshire

25.34

 2

Vermont 15.97  

2

Vermont

10.83

 

2

Vermont

25.35

 3

Colorado 15.09  

3

Rhode Island

9.98

 

3

Massachusetts

25.60

 4

New Hampshire 14.88  

4

Maine

9.88

 

4

Washington

26.33

 5

Massachusetts 14.55  

5

Colorado

9.82

 

5

Colorado

26.77

 6

Oregon 14.45  

6

New Hampshire

9.67

 

6

Oregon

26.83

 7

Rhode Island 14.32  

7

Oregon

9.30

 

7

Alaska

27.77

 8

D.C. 14.29  

8

Massachusetts

8.70

 

8

Maine

28.15

 9

Maine 13.56  

9

D.C.

8.51

 

9

Minnesota

28.49

 10

California 12.88  

10

Hawaii

8.48

 

10

Rhode Island

28.52

13

Connecticut 12.53  

15

Connecticut

7.24

 

14

Connecticut

33.12

 

Total US 10.82  

 

Total US

6.36

 

 

Total US

36.06

12 to 17

 

12 to 17

 

12 to 17

1

Colorado 18.55  

 1

Colorado

10.19

 

1

New Hampshire

23.39

2

Oregon 18.29  

 2

Vermont

9.73

 

2

Vermont

23.95

3

New Mexico 16.79  

 3

New Hampshire

9.67

 

3

Massachusetts

24.38

4

Vermont 16.64  

 4

New Mexico

9.22

 

4

Colorado

25.15

5

New Hampshire 16.58  

 5

Alaska

9.18

 

5

Oregon

26.52

6

Nevada 16.40  

 6

Rhode Island

9.11

 

6

D.C.

27.67

7

Massachusetts 16.38  

 7

Massachusetts

9.05

 

7

Alaska

27.96

8

Rhode Island 16.35  

 8

Nevada

8.97

 

8

California

28.19

9

Connecticut 15.89  

 9

Montana

8.80

 

9

Rhode Island

28.44

10

Alaska 15.87  

 10

Oregon

8.69

 

10

Connecticut

28.63

 

Total US 13.28  

13

Connecticut

8.37

 

 

Total US

32.28

       

 

Total US

6.98

       

18 to 25

 

18 to 25

 

18 to 25

1

Vermont

45.02

 

1

Vermont

30.56

 

1

Vermont

11.73

2

New Hampshire

41.82

 

2

New Hampshire

27.39

 

2

New Hampshire

12.37

3

Massachusetts

40.19

 

3

Rhode Island

27.09

 

3

Massachusetts

13.42

4

Maine

39.65

 

4

Maine

26.15

 

4

Rhode Island

14.33

5

Rhode Island

39.43

 

5

Alaska

25.21

 

5

Colorado

14.95

6

Colorado

38.50

 

6

Massachusetts

24.79

 

6

Maine

14.98

7

Oregon

37.35

 

7

Colorado

24.31

 

7

Oregon

15.22

8

Connecticut

36.95

 

8

Oregon

23.84

 

8

Montana

16.42

9

New York

36.37

 

9

New York

23.14

 

9

Washington

16.57

10

Delaware

35.93

 

10

Delaware

22.54

 

10

DC

16.89

 

Total US

29.08

 

11

Connecticut

22.52

 

13

Connecticut

17.81

       

 

Total US

17.30

 

 

Total US

21.75

                     

26+

 

26+

 

26+

1

Alaska

12.75

 

 1

Alaska

9.31

 

1

New Hampshire

27.56

2

Vermont

11.15

 

 2

Maine

7.77

 

2

Washington

27.57

3

Colorado

10.77

 

 3

Vermont

7.74

 

3

Vermont

27.73

4

New Hampshire

10.56

 

 4

Colorado

7.36

 

4

Massachusetts

27.90

5

Oregon

10.46

 

 5

Oregon

7.12

 

5

Oregon

28.66

6

D. C.

10.05

 

 6

New Hampshire

6.95

 

6

Colorado

28.94

7

Maine

9.87

 

 7

Rhode Island

6.87

 

7

Alaska

29.76

8

Massachusetts

9.79

 

 8

Hawaii

6.87

 

8

Maine

29.87

9

Rhode Island

9.36

 

 9

D.C.

6.15

 

9

Minnesota

30.38

10

Washington

9.13

 

 10

Massachusetts

5.80

 

10

Rhode Island

31.20

15

Connecticut

8.24

 

18

Connecticut

4.68

 

15

Connecticut

36.10

 

US TOTAL

7.36

 

 

Total US

4.40

 

 

Total US

39.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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