(FOX 11/CNS) - Marijuana use among adults in Los Angeles County was on the rise before the drug was legalized for recreational purposes in the state this year, according to the results of a report released Thursday.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's analysis of data from the Los Angeles County Health Survey found that the percentage of adults ages 18 and over who reported using marijuana in the past year increased from 9 percent to 12 percent from 2011 to 2015.
The report also found that marijuana use increased by almost 50 percent among adults aged 21-29. In 2015, use was highest among 18-20 year olds (27 percent) and 21-29 year olds (22 percent), while men were twice as likely to use marijuana as women (16 percent vs. 8 percent). The report also found a
higher rate of use among people born in the U.S. compared with those born in a foreign country.
Marijuana became legal for recreational sale and consumption in California on Jan. 1 of this year through Prop 64.
"High rates of marijuana use among low-income communities prior to the passage of Prop 64 means we must pay close attention to where dispensaries are clustered post- legalization. Past experience with alcohol and medical marijuana outlets suggests that concentrations of these types of businesses can
have a disproportionate impact on low income communities of color," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
"Very low levels of reported use among those born outside of the U.S. is encouraging, and more research is needed to understand how this could help inform marijuana prevention programs targeting teens."
The report found that marijuana use by race/ethnicity and income categories was highly influenced by country of birth. Overall use among Latinos (10 percent) and Asians (6 percent) was found to be lower than among whites (15 percent) and African-Americans (20 percent), while use specifically among U.S.
born Latinos (20 percent) and U.S. born Asians (13 percent) was similar to African-Americans and whites.
The report also found that overall use among adults below the federal poverty level was lower (8 percent) than among all other income groups, but use specifically among U.S. born adults below the federal poverty level was higher (19 percent) than among all other income groups.