Away from the headline numbers, a closer examination of Gettman's work carries a couple of interesting surprises. The annual 31 million pounds of pot consumed works out to a daily consumption equivalent by American pot smokers of 1.5 to 1.75 of the 85-by-25-millimeter (length and circumference, respectively) standard joint that the U.S. government rolls for in its studies. Most users don't fire up that much, however.
Of the 25 million annual users, some 12.8 million people over the age of 18 use pot monthly, and about 23% of these smoke three or more joints a day. In this, marijuana seems much like the alcohol business, which relies on 20% of its consumers for more than half of its consumption.
In addition, Gettman's work says that 54.8% of children aged 12-17 and 52.8% of adults over the age of 35 say marijuana would be easy for them to get. The number spikes by as much as 20 percentage points for people between those ages.
In terms of drug selling, however, the numbers skew lower: According to a government study quoted in the report, 3.2% of kids 12-17 have sold drugs, while for those 18 to 24 the number is 6%. It falls to 2.3% for people 25 to 34, and to a mere 0.7% for the 35-and-over set. While this number applies to all drug sales, and not just pot, Gettman maintains that licit marijuana would drive many young dealers out of business.
"Right now, kids buy from other kids," he says. "The fixed costs of entry are quite affordable for a 16-year-old. We don't have that structure in the liquor business. There is an economic incentive for a child to do this, and no control under the current regimen."