Miami Dislikes Marijuana More Than Any Other City in America, Study Says

Pot is everywhere in Miami. Its scent wafts from bus stops, floats through open windows, and cascades out from under lifeguard stands on the beach at night. Spend more than a week here and you will, at least once, wonder if the server delivering you overpriced cocktails is stoned out of his mind. 

Which is why it's so surprising that, according to one of the most respected marijuana-usage surveys in America, roughly half the residents in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties think smoking weed once a month is "harmful" and should be avoided. That's the highest rate in the nation.

As new datasets become available every few years, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) periodically releases studies based on the government's National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Last week, SAMHSA released a report on marijuana use and the drug's "perceived risk of harm" in every municipality in America, based on data from 2012 through 2014.

Miami is the most puritanical city in America when it comes to weed, the study found.

As a nation, the study reported, only 28.50 percent of Americans over the age of 13 said they believed monthly marijuana use was "harmful." That's far lower than in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, where a combined 49.29 percent of residents said they did not believe monthly pot usage was a good idea.

Though Southern states, overall, were more apt to dislike marijuana (32.50 percent of Southerners disapproved of monthly pot usage, compared to 25.56 percent in the Northeast and 25.64 percent in the West), it seems Miamians, in particular, get really uppity about pot.

Perhaps the survey is skewed by the large numbers of elderly people and retirees in Dade County — but judging from the number of tanned, 75-year-old lotharios rollerblading around Miami Beach, that explanation also seems somewhat bunk.

(Plus, only a third of the elderly-filled Broward and Palm Beach Counties, collectively referred to as "God's Waiting Room," disapproved of pot usage.)

Because nothing seems to make sense in Florida, the Sunshine State also apparently can't make up its mind as to whether it likes weed. Though Miamians apparently fear the side effects of cannabis, the western edge of the Florida Panhandle is particularly pro-pot:
Miami's pot aversion also seems strange compared to other metropolitan areas across America. Only 22 percent of San Franciscans disapprove of cannabis usage, while all but 19 percent of Washington, D.C. residents are down with lighting up a blunt (and then presumably going to work in Congress.)

The study also asked respondents if they've smoked weed in the past month: Not surprisingly, only 5 percent of Miamians over the age of 12 admitted to smoking in the past 30 days. Though certain areas of rural Alabama reported lower usage rates, Miami still ranked near the bottom.

The government's data conflicts somewhat with that of United for Care, the advocacy group pushing to legalize medical marijuana statewide. With a vote to legalize medical marijuana coming this November, United for Care polled Floridians this year: According to that study, 77 percent of Floridians statewide said they wanted to legalize medicinal weed.

As for cocaine: One hundred percent of Miamians think it's awesome when they're polled at 2 a.m., but they all begin to hate it by sunrise.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.