The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released in its World Drug Report 2012 this week data underlying a list of the top 12 cannabis-smoking countries in the world compiled by Business Insider.
The good old U.S. of A. landed at No. 7, but, for the sake of context, the complete list of the top 12 appears below. The cannabis-using percentage is based on the population between ages 15 and 64, except where noted otherwise.
1. Palau: 24.2 percent
2. Northern Mariana Islands: 22.2 percent
3. Guam: 18.4 percent
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4. Italy: 14.6 percent
4. New Zealand: 14.6 percent (ages from 16 to 64)
6. Nigeria: 14.3 percent
7. U.S.: 14.1 percent
8. Canada: 12.7 percent
9. St. Kitts and Nevis: 11.7 percent
10. Bermuda: 10.9 percent
11. Spain: 10.6 percent
12. Australia: 10.3 percent (ages 14 and higher)
The most glaring omission in the eyes of anyone who has listened to Bob Marley is Jamaica, where just 9.9 percent of the population are cannabis aficionados, according to Business Insider's analysis of the data. Another surprise is Netherlands, where only 7.7% are cannabis fans, despite the fact the herb is more or less legal in that country.
This news gives credence to the results of a study released in May wherein researchers found that legalizing medical marijuana doesn't necessarily increase the likelihood that teenagers will begin using marijuana.
According to data from Monitoring The Future, cited in the study, marijuana use increased sharply nationwide after 2005, Business Insider reported. Opponents said this was because of the legalization of medical marijuana in states like California.
However, when researchers analyzed information on patients who tested positive for marijuana, the data showed that teens didn't abuse marijuana more after it was legalized in their home states. In other words, teen marijuana use in California, where it's legal, didn't spike higher than in Ohio, where it's not, Business Insider said.
The same outlet reported that 70 percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana, even though it's legal in only 16 states.
Noted weed lover Snoop Dogg was recently detained at a Norwegian airport for possession of the substance. He also found himself in hot water last January -- at the same Texas border town where country singer Willie Nelson was once busted.
Jezebel, an underling of the gossip behemoth Gawker, published a story last Tuesday by an anonymous author titled I'm A Mom and I'm Stoned Right Now, which gave some context to the increased use of marijuana in normal suburban homes, rather than the sketchy drug dens that are often covered by television news. That author cited the ways marijuana is helpful to stressed-out parents and taxpaying, registered voters.
Once upon a time, back when I was young and stupid enough to think that 30 was old, I thought that one magical day in the indeterminate future I'd just naturally age out of my predilection for smoking pot, the author wrote. That never happened. And why would it? Weed is awesome. I've always preferred it to alcohol. It doesn't have the calories or the hangover.
A similar New York Post article from about a year ago explained that young moms are smoking to take the edge off. They even said it improves their relationships with the children in their lives.
According to the Post: She enjoys a joint a couple of times a week, after work or on the weekends -- sometimes after her son has gone to bed, and sometimes during the day, when he's awake. The pot, she says, makes mom-and-baby time a whole different thing. 'I have had moments where I felt like I could communicate with him better, back when he wasn't talking -- we'd have a silent, eye-contact kind of conversation,' she says.
Based on the spike in Business Insider mentions, marijuana use no longer appears to be a habit teenagers simply grow out of. There are certainly health dangers, but 14.1 percent of Americans seem to be choosing the reward over the risk.