As more states legalize marijuana, the number of adult consumers has been on the rise. But there are only three major metro areas where cannabis is more popular than cigarettes and other products containing nicotine, according to new market-research data.
And — you guessed it — Seattle is one of them.
More than 700,000 people age 18 and older in the Seattle-Tacoma area — about 17% of the adult population — have consumed cannabis in the past 30 days, according to the data from the market-research firm Nielsen. That’s the fourth highest consumption among 70 large metro areas, behind Portland, Las Vegas and Denver. And it edges out the use of nicotine products, including cigarettes other tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Combined, they were consumed by about 16% of adults in our metro area.
The other two metros where cannabis is more popular than nicotine are probably not much of a surprise: San Francisco and Portland.
What these areas have in common is, when compared to the national average, a high percentage of cannabis consumers and a low percentage of nicotine consumers. Portland has the nation’s highest share of adult cannabis consumers, at 20% — that’s about 1 percentage point higher than nicotine consumers.
What about other areas where marijuana is very popular, like Denver? About 18% in the Mile High City say they’ve consumed cannabis in the past 30 days, which is just a tad lower than the 19% for cigarettes and other nicotine products. In Las Vegas, 18% consumed cannabis compared with 23% who consumed nicotine.
Nielsen surveyed more than 200,000 adults nationally, including about 4,000 in the Seattle-Tacoma area from January 2018 to May 2019. The survey does not ask people if they acquired the cannabis product through the legal sector or through the black market.
California became the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first to legalize recreational use. Nine more states (plus the District of Columbia) have since legalized recreational use: Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont. Another 22 states have legalized cannabis for medical use only. Polling shows a clear majority of Americans support legal marijuana.
As you’d probably expect, the highest use of cannabis is in metro areas that, like Seattle, are located in states that have adopted the most expansive legalization laws. The Albuquerque-Santa Fe area has the highest share of cannabis consumers in a metro where recreational use is prohibited by state law. At 14% of the adult population, it ranks 8th among the 70 metro areas and higher than somewhere recreational use is allowed, including Spokane (12%).
Read more: Seattle Times