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Clark, Lawrence Strausser, Donna

Asked/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at

How many people use marijuana?

Marijuana is the most prevalent illicit drug used in the United States. More than 40 percent of individuals 12 years old or older in the United States reported in 2016 to using marijuana at some point in their life in, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

More than half of all individuals age 18 to 25 in 2016 reported using marijuana at some point in their life and more than 30 percent reported using in the previous year, according to data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

For comparison, more than 80 percent of people reported drinking alcohol, more than 14 percent reported using cocaine, and less than 2 percent reported using heroin.

In Cumberland County in 2015, nearly 15 percent of sixth through 12th graders reported using marijuana, according to Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

While that is a small percentage of all students, the numbers increase dramatically as students get older, going from less than 1 percent in sixth grade to more than 30 percent by 12th grade.

Possession of a small amount of marijuana remains one of the most prevalent drug charges filed in Cumberland County courts and is included in more than half of all drug cases, according to an analysis of court record conducted by The Sentinel.

As of Nov. 16, more than 700 cases have included the charge. Of those, 250 were for cases where misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana was the highest charge.

Roughly 70 percent of the people charged with just possession of a small amount of marijuana were white and about 26 percent were listed as black. Men were charged with the crime 73 percent of the time, while women were charged about 27 percent of the time, according to court records.

There were only 255 of these cases in all of 2016.

Look for a closer look at marijuana policy and marijuana decriminalization in The Sentinel beginning Dec. 16.

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Cops & Courts Reporter

Crime & Courts Reporter at The Sentinel.

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