After a slew of states across the country have decided to legalize medical and/or recreational use of marijuana, the Washington Post decided to take a look at the impact this new legislation has had on weed consumption by state. Ironically the map looks a lot like the 2016 electoral college map with the highest levels of consumption per capita coming from the liberal strongholds of New England and the West Coast. Meanwhile, Montana seems to be the one conservative outlier where people love both their individual liberties and tokin' up on the reg.
Overall, a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 22 million Americans like to light up on a monthly basis with closer to 37 million admitting they partake at least once a year.
According to one estimate by ArcView Group, a marijuana industry consulting firm, the legal marijuana market rang up $6.7 billion in sales in 2016.
Legal or not, millions of Americans already use marijuana regularly. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.3 percent of Americans age 12 and over -- 22 million people -- used marijuana on a monthly basis in 2015. And close to 37 million people used marijuana at least once that year.
Meanwhile, it's readily apparent that the highest marijuana use per capita comes from states where the drug has been legalized for medical and/or medicinal purposes.
In the 2014-2015 period (years are paired for state-level data to provide bigger sample sizes), nearly a quarter of people in places where recreational pot is legal -- like D.C. and Colorado -- used some form of marijuana at least once a year.
That's nearly double the national average, and it's close to three times the rate for the most pot-abstinent states, like Alabama, Mississippi and Iowa, where around 8 or 9 percent of people age 12 and older use pot yearly.
Generally speaking, the Northeast and the West Coast are the two major marijuana hotbeds in the country. Marijuana use between the coasts is generally lower, with the notable exception of Colorado.
The state-level data shows that places with the most marijuana use generally have some form of legal medical or recreational marijuana available. This is likely a two-way street: places with lax attitudes about marijuana use are more likely to approve legal marijuana, and marijuana availability probably leads to more lax attitudes about use.
Finally, for our entrepreneurial readers, we just wanted to highlight that we see staggering opportunities for new KFC and Taco Bell franchises in parts of Montana, Colorado and New England.