Daily Marijuana Use Surpasses Alcohol Consumption As Gen Z Drives Changing Preferences

A new report from Carnegie Mellon University reveals that daily marijuana use has overtaken daily alcohol consumption for the first time in the United States, with the shift largely driven by Generation Z’s changing preferences.

The analysis, which examined data from over 1.6 million participants across 27 surveys between 1979 and 2022, found that roughly 17.7 million Americans used cannabis daily or near-daily in 2022, compared to 14.7 million daily drinkers.

This trend coincides with the legalization of recreational marijuana in 24 states and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s recent move to reclassify the drug to a less dangerous category under the Controlled Substances Act.

According to a 2022 survey by New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm, 69% of people aged 18 to 24 prefer marijuana to alcohol. This preference is particularly notable among Gen Z women, whose marijuana sales have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020.

The increasing popularity of marijuana has raised concerns among some addiction specialists. Psychiatrist Colin Reiff points to a recent National Institute of Health study that associates excessive cannabis use with schizophrenia among some young people, especially young men, during a critical period of brain development.

Despite these concerns, some young adults, like Matthew Everett, a patron of Work ‘N’ Roll, a cannabis-friendly shared workspace in New York City, believe that marijuana is less destructive to their lifestyle than alcohol.