More than half of the states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both, and as with anything fun, the government is trying to keep tabs on it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released on Thursday, presents new findings from the government’s weed surveillance, showing relative rates of marijuana use among various professions and demographic groups in 2014 and 2015 (look, data analysis can take a while).
In this report, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment compiled results from the state’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone survey of 26,936 adults in Colorado about their marijuana habits and occupation, together with demographic data like age, ethnicity, and sex. Out of all the respondents, 54.5 percent reported they were employed (or unemployed less than a year), and out of these individuals, 14.6 percent reported smoking marijuana in the past month. The survey showed that marijuana use is more prevalent among people aged 18 to 25 (29.6 percent) than people 26 to 34 years old (18.6 percent) and that it was higher among men (17.2 percent) than women (11.3 percent). Perhaps most interestingly, though, the survey revealed which professions are most and least likely to attract smokers.
Some notable figures from the report include the stoniest profession — 32.2 percent of chefs and servers had smoked in the past month — which probably comes as no surprise to any service industry veterans. People working in transportation were near the bottom of that list, but they weren’t at the bottom of the list, which might concern government officials tracking how marijuana legalization could affect public safety. The profession with the fewest smokers was healthcare, with 3.1 percent reporting past-month marijuana use.
As far as public health is concerned, more research will be necessary to show how marijuana use affects the performance of people in positions where dexterity and clear-headedness are key. These current data don’t necessarily reveal how much people are smoking on the job — just whether they’ve been smoking lately. While this doesn’t necessarily show that these people create on-the-job risks, the CDC report cites some evidence that any marijuana use can increase risks of motor vehicle accidents.
This is the first time these data have been compiled in this way, and the results are just a first snapshot of marijuana use among working people. But for Colorado, a state with legalized marijuana, they give public health officials a better idea of how different people are using the drug.
One major limitation of the study is that it doesn’t differentiate between once-a-month smokers and daily smokers, so future research should aim to close this gap. But for now, suffice it to say these results show that lots of very different people are blazing up.