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Number of U.S. Americans who used illicit drugs in their lifetime 2019, by drug type

Marijuana, followed by cocaine and LSD, is the most used illicit drug in the United States. As of 2019, around 127 million people in the United States had used marijuana at some point in their lifetime. In the past few years, a number of states have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes, creating a new and thriving market.

Legal cannabis

Eleven U.S. states have now legalised the use of cannabis for recreational purposes and 15 more have decriminalized it. Sales of legal cannabis reached an estimated 9.84 billion dollars in 2018, with this number expected to grow to 23 billion by the year 2025. As of 2017, there were somewhere between 20,000 and 28,000 cannabis businesses in the U.S. These businesses included, but were not limited to, dispensaries, infused product manufacturers, and wholesale cultivators.

Teen cannabis use

Despite the recent change of legality in many U.S. states, the perceived availability of marijuana among 12th graders has decreased in recent years. Nevertheless, around 78 percent of 12th graders stated they perceived it to be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain marijuana. Past month use of marijuana among high school students has also declined from figures reported in the late 1990s, but around 16 percent of high school students still report having used marijuana in the past month.

Number of people in the U.S. who used selected illicit drugs in their lifetime as of 2019, by drug type

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Release date

September 2020


United States

Survey time period


Number of respondents

base: around 70,000

Age group

12 years and older

Method of interview


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Statistics on "Drug use in the U.S."

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