Parents Using Pot

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 8-20-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 8-20-11.

Question of the Week: How many parents use marijuana?

The U.S. Census estimates that families in households with minor children – married and single parent male or female – comprised roughly 62 million persons in 2010. An average of the percentage use figures in the 2010 Monitoring the Future study indicate that around 15% of those within the childbearing years of age 20-35 consume cannabis monthly, with about 5% being daily users. Daily use likely equates to medical use. Simple multiplication of these two percentages times the estimated 62 million persons heading family households places the number of marijuana using parents in the United States at least as high as 9.5 million and patient parents near 3 million.

The U.S. Census also estimates the number of children ages 12-17 at 24.8 million. Monitoring the Future projects the percentage of adolescents who currently use cannabis at 13.8%. The result of multiplying the two figures is roughly 3.4 million young people who use cannabis at least monthly.

Ironically, the aforementioned Monitoring the Future percentages indicate a steep decline in cannabis consumption during childbearing years. The prevalence of those using it within the last 30 days drops from 20.6% of 18 year-olds to 12% of 29-39 year-olds.

The Social Epidemiology of Substance Use” report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health confirms this trend, finding that, “in the context of family relations, it is primarily the assumption of greater family responsibilities that has been associated with cessation of use. For example, becoming a parent for the first time has been associated with cessation of marijuana use.”

These facts and others like them can be found on the Families and Youth chapter of Drug War Facts at