Americans spent the past 12 years dramatically increasing their love of marijuana.
According to The Washington Post, a study revealed the amount of American adults who say they use marijuana more than doubled from 2001 to 2013.
Researchers led by Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, examined the results of two National Epidemiologic Surveys on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
The first survey gathered data from 43,093 people from 2001 to 2002, while the second took place from 2012 to 2013 and involved 36,309 people.
Participants answered questions to determine marijuana use, as well as to look for any signs of what is known as use disorder. Use disorder is the continued use of marijuana, despite debilitating effects such as medical problems, a tendency to drive under the influence, failure to decrease dependency and problems involving one's friends or family members.
Professor Hasin's team found 4.1 percent of American adults said they used marijuana in 2001 compared to 9.5 percent of American adults in 2013.
The Washington Post notes the amount of Americans who approve the legalization of marijuana went from a third of the population to the majority in approximately that same time interval.
One might attribute the increase in use to the legalization of medical marijuana, which began in 1996 in California and since spread to 22 more states and the District of Columbia.
Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, was first signed into law in 2012 and is now only legal in four states, in addition to the District of Columbia.
Professor Hasin said the next step is figuring out what is responsible for marijuana becoming less taboo in the US.
She reportedly said,
You can speculate that Americans are increasingly viewing marijuana as a harmless substance... or laws are changing. But we don't really know until you do good, empirical studies on what factors are really influencing it.
That's about 6.8 million Americans -- reportedly just a small decrease since 2001.
The study authors concluded if marijuana use continues to increase, the public must receive more education about its risks.
In the study, the authors said,
As is the case for addiction to other substances, most individuals with marijuana use disorders in the general population go untreated... However, the clear risk for marijuana use disorders among users (approximately 30%) suggests that as the number of US users grows, so will the number of those experiencing problems related to such use.
This study was originally published in JAMA Psychiatry.