More than a third of young adults in Minnesota are getting high


Alcohol consumption in Minnesota remains flat, but marijuana use is experiencing an uptick, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Minnesotans like a drink now and again.

You knew that already. So did behavioral researchers.

According to recent statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly six in 10 Land of 10,000 Lakes residents ages 12 and older have boozed sometime in the past month. That number is on par with findings when the same study was conducted six years ago.

Over the years, Minnesota has typically ranked just a titch below the nation's biggest booze hounds: In the New England states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut, and to the east of us in Wisconsin, more than 60 percent of the populations have imbibed within the past 30 days.

What's new on the home front comes from the still-illegal-here drug front: More Minnesotans are using marijuana.

In 2008-09, about 10 percent of Minnesotans age 18 and older said they'd smoked pot over the past month. Between 2014 and 2015, the new report shows, use of the herb in the state grew to about 13 percent.

A look inside those numbers reveals an upsurge in two demographics. Over the six-year span, pot users age 18 to 25 increased by six points, to almost 36 percent. Their drinking rate dropped a bit. Six years ago, 68 percent copped to drinking the previous month; this time, that figure was 65 percent. 

The 26-and-older bracket saw a a more tepid bump in weed smoking, from 7 percent participation to 9 percent. 

Meanwhile, marijuana use among adolescents continues to wane, according to the report, with rates below 5 percent.   

The report's findings make complete sense to Michael Ford, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 

"As more states make marijuana legal, either medically, for recreation, or both," he says, "what you're seeing is more and more people in the mainstream becoming interested and open to the subject. As the laws change, it becomes more socially acceptable."

That's good news for the nation's budding cannabis industry, in the states where it exists. Minnesota isn't one of them.

"This country," Ford says, "is slowly getting out of the Dark Ages when it comes to marijuana."   

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