Legal pot is making the poor lazy and shiftless, claims the NYPost. Isn’t it just as likely; more likely, that lazy, shiftless people tend to be poor and unemployed, and smoking dope all day is a symptom, not the cause of their character deficiencies? If the author is right, then the problem will soon self-correct, and the educated, successful pot smokers will soon be driven down the social scale to join their lessers, and equality will reign. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
The effects of these new laws have been immediate. One study, which collected data from 2011-12 and 2012-13 showed a 22 percent increase in monthly use in Colorado. The percentage of people there who used daily or almost daily also went up.
But legalization and our growing cultural acceptance of marijuana have disproportionately affected one group in particular: the lower class.
A recent study by Steven Davenport of RAND and Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon notes that “despite the popular stereotype of marijuana users as well-off and well-educated . . . they lag behind national averages” on both income and schooling.
For instance, people who have a household income of less than $20,000 a year comprise 19 percent of the population but make up 28 percent of marijuana users. And even though those who earn more than $75,000 make up 33 percent of the population, 25 percent of them are marijuana users. Having more education also seems to make it less likely that you are a user. College graduates make up 27 percent of the population but only 19 percent of marijuana users.