The 10 Stoniest Cities in America


Where do people like to smoke pot the most? Thanks to government statistics, we have an answer to that question.

In a new report based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the number crunchers at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have disaggregated the marijuana use data, providing a means of getting down to pot-smoking frequency at the local level.

Using data on "past month use" from the 2012 and 2014 national surveys, the researchers found that 7.73% of Americans 12 and older reported using marijuana at least that often. Similar reports based on the survey data have allowed us to determine the top 10 marijuana using states, but this time around, the researchers divided each state into a number of "substate" areas—with great variation. Some are parts of cities, some are cities, some are counties, some are groups of counties, some appear to be based on state circuit court regions.

That introduces a couple of caveats for the list of top marijuana consuming cities. The figures for the cities mentioned may be for the city itself, as is the case with San Francisco, but most often include the city and a surrounding area, as is the case with Seattle, which includes everything in far western Washington up to the Canadian border.

And the substate regions include some regions that have high marijuana use levels, but no cities to speak of. They don't make the list, but places like these deserve honorable mention: Alaska's North Coast (14.93%), northern California (13.97%), southeastern Maine (13.29%), and northern New Hampshire (12.40%), as well as virtually all of Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

The top pot-smoking cities are hitting the bong at rate at or near twice the national average, and here they are in rank order:

  1. San Francisco, 15.46%. A half-century ago, the city was a hotbed of hippies. Now, it's a high-tech haven, but they still like to burn the weed in Babylon by the Bay. Just make sure you have your medical marijuana card, at least until November.
  2. Denver, 14.84%. The Mile High City certainly lives up to its reputation as it basks in the warm glow of legalized weed and enjoys the benefits of marijuana tourism. And that glow extends to most of the rest of the state, too.
  3. Seattle, 14.31%. Another high-use city in another legalization state. Why are we not surprised?
  4. Burlington, Vermont, 13.87%. With the highest percentage of tokers east of the Mississippi, this sleepy little progressive town apparently has something going for it other than Bernie Sanders. Vermont came closer to legalizing it through the legislature this year; it could still end up being the first to go that route.
  5. Portland 13.32%. The City of Roses is developing a reputation as a city that has a real yen for another kind of flower, too. Oregon legalized it in 2014; now we see why.
  6. Boston 13.12%. East Coast is in the house! Bostonians are toking up like they've already legalized it, but that won't happen until November, and those Boston burners best remember to get to the polls—this contest is going to be close.
  7. Providence 12.77%. Rhode Islanders like to toke up, too. In fact, usage rates are even higher outside Providence proper. What's that we smell wafting over Narraganset Bay? Now, if they could only get their state legislature to act.
  8. Anchorage, 12.37%. The Alaska Supreme Court legalized pot possession in 1979. Prohibitionists managed to undo that a few years later, but now the wheel has turned again, with the state ending marijuana prohibition in 2014, and Alaskans are taking full advantage. They smoke even more dope on the North Slope (14.99%), but there's no cities worth mentioning up there.
  9. Olympia, Washington, 12.01%. It's just down the I-5 corridor from Seattle, and the pot-friendliness of the state's largest city extends to the state capital as well.
  10. Albuquerque, 12.00%. You see why they call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. There have been serious efforts to get pot legalized in the legislature. They haven't borne fruit yet, but folks in Duke City aren't waiting. 

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