A study by researchers at the University of Washington has found that the state may be the top cannabis consumer of in the world even beating the likes of Amsterdam, which is well-known all over the world for its cannabis tourism.
The researchers analyzed a Western Washington city’s public waste-water over a period of 3 years from 2013-2016, looking for the chemical THC-COOH, the human byproduct of marijuana’s active ingredient. For this, they performed chemical analysis on wastewater from 2 treatment plants that reportedly serviced “a municipality of nearly 2,00,000 people”. The obtained results were then generalized to all of Washington and the following inferences were made:
1) Legal sales outperformed the illicit market
By comparing their sewage data with the data from Cannabis Board and Washington State Liquor, which informed the researchers on how much THC was being sold through products from licensed outlets, the researchers found the THC-COOH to be more consistent with the lower levels of the psychoactive element that came with the legal cannabis. Notably, legal THC sales increased 70% per quarter between August 2014 and December 2016.
2) Cannabis Use doubled in 3 years
The study — published in the journal Addiction — noted that the THC-COOH levels saw an increase of 9% per quarter, pointing to a ‘doubled THC consumption’ from December 2013 to December 2016.
3) Western Washington may be the top consumer of THC in the world
Dr. Daniel A Burgard, the lead researcher on the study, says that the Western Washington data shows the highest amount of THC recorded per capita, even more than Amsterdam. Notably, Burgard is part of many similar studies being conducted across the globe.
“We are part of an international study … with 60 to 80 other cities around the world,” he said. “And according to wastewater, the Puget Sound area has the highest marijuana use per capita.”
Thus, Washington can enjoy this distinction until future research finds out another region with even higher consumption of marijuana.