BOSTON (CBS) – One-fifth of Massachusetts adults had used marijuana in the past 30 days, with one-third of those admitting to driving while under the influence of marijuana, a statewide study released Friday by state public health officials has found. Marijuana use was highest among 18-to-25 year-olds, the study found.
The study, conducted by the state Department of Public Health, was mandated by state lawmakers as part of revisions to the 2016 adult-use marijuana law.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the patterns of use, methods of consumption, and general perceptions of marijuana; incidents of impaired driving and hospitalization related to marijuana use; and the economic and fiscal impacts for state and local governments.
“The study establishes a baseline measurement of how marijuana is used and how that affects public health, public safety, and potential revenue in the state before adult-use marijuana becomes widely available,” Marc Nascarella, the study’s principal investigator at the DPH, said in a statement.
Among the study’s highlights:
- 21 percent of Massachusetts adults had used marijuana in the past 30 days.
- Smoking is the most common method of marijuana consumption.
- More than 40 percent of marijuana users report using multiple methods of use.
- More than half of adults perceive marijuana to have slight or no risks, and use marijuana for non-medical purposes.
- Among respondents that use marijuana, 34.3 percent reported driving under the influence.
- Overall, 7.2 percent of adults drove under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days, and 11.3 percent of adults rode with a marijuana-using driver in the past 30 days.
A survey of patients who use marijuana products for medical use suggests that the average person uses marijuana 24 days a month, with the majority using marijuana products for at least 21 out of the past 30 days.
The number of marijuana-related calls to the Regional Poison Control Center in Massachusetts has been increasing over time. Calls include incidents of unintentional exposures among children, with most of the calls related to 10-to-19-year-old individuals, and/or exposure to dried marijuana flower. The proportion of calls increased after medical marijuana was available in Massachusetts, the study found.
Economically, projections suggest that marijuana will increase Massachusetts state revenue by about $215.8 million in the first two years of retail sales. The increase will largely come from sales and excise taxes collected on retail purchases.
The study began in early 2017, with collaboration between the DPH, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The DPH partnered with the UMass Donahue Institute/UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Mathematica Policy Research Inc. and JSI Research and Training, Inc. for the study.