This Ohio County Has the Most Weed Smokers! You Won’t Believe It!

Ohio recently joined the ranks of states legalizing recreational marijuana, but cannabis consumption across its counties varies. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report, Athens County stands out for its notable percentage of marijuana users. In this discussion, we delve into why Athens County leads in cannabis consumption in Ohio and its implications for both the county and the state.

The Numbers

Based on SAMHSA data spanning from 2018 to 2020, Athens County boasts the highest rate of marijuana usage among adults aged 18 and above, with 23.9% reporting marijuana use in the past year. This figure more than doubles the state average of 11.4% and surpasses the national average of 18.1%. Additionally, Athens County exhibits the highest rate of marijuana use disorder, with 5.4% of adults meeting the criteria, compared to 2.3% statewide and 2.8% nationally.

The Reasons

Several factors contribute to Athens County’s elevated cannabis consumption:

  • College Town: Home to Ohio University, Athens County attracts a significant student population, known to have higher rates of marijuana use for various purposes, including recreational and academic.
  • Liberal Politics: Athens County’s progressive stance, demonstrated by initiatives like the decriminalization of marijuana possession and support for legalization, fosters a culture supportive of cannabis.
  • Rural Setting: Situated in southeastern Ohio’s Appalachian region, Athens County’s rural landscape may contribute to higher marijuana usage, with rural areas typically exhibiting elevated consumption rates.

The Implications

The prevalence of marijuana consumption in Athens County brings both positive and negative implications:

  • Economic Benefits: Legalization could bolster the county’s economy through increased tax revenue, job opportunities, and cannabis-related tourism, potentially fostering a local industry.
  • Public Health Risks: However, elevated cannabis consumption poses public health risks, including impaired driving, accidental ingestion, mental health concerns, and addiction. Regulating and enforcing marijuana laws presents challenges, including preventing underage use and ensuring product safety.


As Ohio’s recreational marijuana program unfolds, Athens County’s status as a leading cannabis consumer offers valuable insights into the impacts of legalization. The county serves as a microcosm, showcasing the benefits and challenges associated with marijuana legalization, shaping discussions and policies within the state.

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