Michigan ranked sixth highest in the nation and the highest in the upper Midwest for enthusiasm about marijuana, according to a survey published by online blog Estately last Monday.
The rankings are based on five criteria including the number of reported marijuana users per state, affordability of high-quality marijuana, number of marijuana-related Google searches per capita and state marijuana laws, as well as the number of subscriptions to marijuana-related Facebook groups.
The information was compiled from a broad range of sources. To determine the number of marijuana users in each state, Estately used data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The cost of marijuana in each state came from the user-submitted website, priceofweed.com. Data from Facebook, and Google Trends was used to determine statewide interest in marijuana. The survey also drew from the New York City-based nonprofit organization, Drug Policy Alliance, for information about individual state's drug laws.
Michigan legislators are considering legalizing the drug, but use of marijuana in Michigan is currently illegal. Medical marijuana however, is legalized in the state.
All of the states who ranked in the top slots are notable for their recent legalizations of marijuana for recreational use. Colorado was ranked #1, followed by Washington and Oregon. Alaska, the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana, was the only state with similar policies to be ranked outside the top 10 at 12th.
Ryan Nickum, the author of the Estately article, pointed out most states that rank highly tend to border states that also display an enthusiasm for marijuana. Michigan and Wisconsin, Nickum noted, were outliers from this trend.
In his state-by-state analysis of the 10 highest ranking states, Nickum made a specific reference to the University of Michigan.
“You have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a year when Michigan was ranked this much higher than Ohio, but that was in football, not weed (University of Michigan ranked 12th, Ohio State University was unranked). Michigan tops Ohio (20th) in these rankings because medical marijuana is legal, as opposed to just decriminalized like in Ohio.” Nickum wrote in the report.
An LSA freshman and marijuana user who has requested to remain anonymous — said the lack of social stigma, and sense of relaxation are factors that contribute to marijuana’s popularity on campus.
“People are likely to smoke because they genuinely like the feeling they get from doing so; also, from my experience there really isn't a stigma that comes from doing it at all,” he said. “Basically everyone I knew growing up did it, so there was no sense of, 'Oh, what I'm doing is wrong.' But the main thing is people like how they feel when they're on (marijuana).”
The article also notes the high popularity of marijuana on the West Coast as well as the Northeast. By comparison, the plains states, as well as the Southeastern states displayed relatively low enthusiasm for marijuana use.
LSA senior Erin Dunne, director of the University Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said the marijuana legalization policies in other states could be an influence on the growing enthusiasm for the drug statewide.
“I think that enthusiasm is currently growing in part because the national discourse on marijuana is becoming more favorable,” Dunne said. “Voters are looking to states like Washington and Colorado and seeing that there is a reality of legal and taxable marijuana that is beneficial to the state and hoping to bring the revenue and industry to Michigan.”
Dunne, who is an advocate for statewide removal of criminal penalties for cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana except in the case of sale to unauthorized minors, also noted Ann Arbor's relatively loose policies on the drug.
“In the city of Ann Arbor, marijuana has been decriminalized, meaning that offenses result in a fine and a civil infraction rather than a criminal charge,” Dunne said. “This policy has probably benefited Michigan students in the sense that those who choose to use marijuana off-campus will not be sucked into the court system and have a criminal record when applying to jobs.”