So I wander through the comments on Who Are You II over at the NORML Blog, a post I wrote as a follow-up to Who Are You because of a suggestion in the comments, I find this suggestion, once again, from Christopher:
I actually see a problem with these charts. If I’m reading them correctly, they take into account the employment status of an individual who has only smoked at least once. In my opinion, that makes these numbers a little flimsy.
It would be much more accurate and believable if statistics showed the employment/education numbers for people that smoke a certain amount or over in a given year. You guys did a great job in answering my question, but now that I look at it better i’m seeing a big fault in the numbers. This is not a solid demographic I can show anti-legalization people.
The data are available for anyone to play with over at SAMHDA, but I’ll go ahead and tackle this one, because Christopher is my muse. I resisted creating the charts for employment based on frequency of use because, as one might expect, unemployment rates go up as the frequency of marijuana use goes up. I’m doubtful of those numbers because of the effect that workplace drug testing would play on creating them, i.e., the more you toke, the more likely a random UA will catch you and make you unemployed, and the more you toke, the more likely you’re not applying for jobs that require drug tests and therefore you remain unemployed longer.
However, I’m glad Christopher did ask for these figures, because if you look at the other side — how many tokers are employed — the numbers look fairly good for pot smokers. Here are the figures for US Adult American Employment based on Frequency of Marijuana Use:
As you can see, in every category, a pot smoker is more likely to be employed than one who doesn’t smoke. And it’s not just part-time jobs; the proportion of marijuana users working full-time jobs exceeds non-smokers in every usage category. They are also more likely to be unemployed, especially among the chronic tokers.
I also considered the category “Other / Not in Labor Force”. That might be the disabled and the elderly that may be more likely to be non-smokers and therefore push down the employment rates compared to the tokers. So I compared the numbers without including the “Other” category.
So it does appear, by that standard, that the more you smoke marijuana, the more likely you are to be unemployed… but not by much. Depending on usage 88%-94% of pot smokers are employed, compared to 96% of those who didn’t use this year.