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by Peter Moskos

September 25, 2009

Everybody must get stoned

Raționalitate asks a very good question: How much marijuana is consumed in the US?

Of course, thanks to drug prohibition, we really have no idea.

Some 100 million Americans would admit to having smoked marijuana, but that is most certainly a low estimate.

The New York Times cites a congressional report stating that Mexico seized around 9.3 million pounds of marijuana in 2007.

Raționalitate then, out of necessity, plays a bit fast and loose with the numbers, but the end result boils down to this: let's assume that marijuana seized in Mexico represents 1/4 of total U.S. consumption.

If US consumption is 37.2 million pounds or 2.38 billion quarter ounces. Raționalitate says a quarter is enough to get one person high about 15-40 times, depending on quality and tolerance (does that ring true?). Let's go with 20.

That's 144 highs for every American man, woman, and child. Duuude... That's just gotta be too high. Right?

So perhaps the Mexican figures are bogus.

So what other figures are out there? In 2004 the 1.1 million kilograms of marijuana were seized at the border. And in 2005 there were 4,046,599 plant seizures in the US. And let's also assume that you get 2 ounces of smokeable marijuana per plant. (oh, web research, how easy and unreliable you make data!).

So we got 157 million quarter ounces at the border seized and about 32 million quarter ounces of plants destroyed. And let's say that these seizures represent, I don't know, 20% of total consumption? Do we have any idea? It could be 25%. It could be 2%. More likely to be the latter. But let's say 20%, because it makes the figures more conservative. That means there are about 1 billion quarter ounces of marijuana consumed in America each year. That's 3 quarters or 60 highs for every American per year.

Duuuude, that's still a lot of weed!

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