Illegal drug use on the rise

The rate of illegal drug use rose last year to the highest level in nearly a decade, fueled by a sharp increase in marijuana use and a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse, the government reported Wednesday.

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the 9 percent increase in drug use disappointing but said he was not surprised given “eroding attitudes” about the perception of harm from illegal drugs and the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana.

“I think all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people,” Kerlikowske said in an interview.

The annual report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found marijuana use rose by 8 percent and remained the most commonly used drug.

Mike Meno, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, said the survey is more proof that the government’s war on marijuana has failed in spite of decades of enforcement efforts and arrests.

“It’s time we stop this charade and implement sensible laws that would tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do more harmful — but legal — drugs like alcohol and tobacco,” Meno said.

On a positive note, cocaine abuse continues to decline, with use of the drug down 32 percent from its peak in 2006.

About 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. That’s the highest level since the survey began in 2002. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006.

The survey, which was being released Thursday, is based on interviews with about 67,500 people. It is considered the most comprehensive annual snapshot of drug use in the United States.

Other results show a 37 percent increase in ecstasy use and a 60 percent jump in the number of methamphetamine users. In the early 2000s, there was a widespread public safety campaign to warn young people about the dangers of ecstasy as a party drug, but that effort declined as use dropped off.

“The last few years, I think we’ve taken our eye off the ball on ecstasy,” Kerlikowske said.

Meth use had been dropping after a passage of a 2006 federal law that put cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters. But law enforcement officials have seen a rise in “smurfing,” or traveling from store to store to purchase the medicines, which can be used to produce homemade meth in kitchen labs.

Kerlikowske attributed the rise in meth abuse to more people getting around the law and an increase in meth coming across the border with Mexico.

The rise in marijuana use comes as California voters prepare to decide in November whether to legalize the drug. An Associated Press-CNBC poll earlier this year found that most Americans still oppose legalizing marijuana, but larger majorities believe it has medical benefits and want the government to allow its use for that purpose.

Medical marijuana sales in the 14 states that allow it have also taken off since the federal government signaled last year that it wouldn’t prosecute marijuana sellers who follow state rules. The survey does not distinguish between medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana use.

The survey found the number of youths aged 12-17 who perceived a great risk of harm from smoking marijuana once or twice a week dropped from 54.7 percent in 2007 to 49.3 percent in 2009.

___

Online:

SAMHSA: http://www.samhsa.gov/

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

10 Responses to "Illegal drug use on the rise"

  1. Carl Nemo  September 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Ya think…? With our economy and the job situation being in ‘super shape’ I just can’t understand why more people have turned to things that will numb them from their numbing existence under our criminally disposed, dysfunctional government.

    If they at least legalized hemp production nationwide then our nation would have a “cash crop” that provides fiber, high quality paper products and oil that can supplement diesel production along with a host of other useful products.

    I also have to laugh that this article shows the leaves of ‘dat ol’ debil weed’ rather than a bunch bottles with capsules of different color strewn out on a table top. The enemy of the people is “Big Pharma”, the MIC and the “oil patch” not hemp or even its psychoactive varieties.

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff  September 18, 2010 at 1:10 am

      Shit, I wish I could still afford weed.

  2. Guardhouse lawyer  September 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    “The rate of illegal drug use rose last year to the highest level in nearly a decade, fueled by a sharp increase in marijuana use and a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse, the government reported Wednesday.”

    “The survey does not distinguish between medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana use.”

    Conclusion: The use of the word illegal in the first sentence is false and misleading.

    Does anyone read this stuff before posting it?

  3. Bogofree  September 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    “Does anyone read this stuff before posting it?”

    Maybe they were stoned?

  4. Lillibet  September 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Carl, you are spot on! Of course people are going to reach for the nearest substance to deaden the pain. It might be a bottle of alcohol, or a bag of plant material. How many more people are now on anti-depressants? How many wish they were on antidepressants? How many wish they could afford anti-depressants?

    If they are into herbal medicines, they might be popping a variety of plant based substances, such as Valerian. (And no, it is not the plant based Valium. Different nerve paths affected and all that.) Others might be downing GABA, or anything that will fill those serotonin receptors.

    Some will turn to marijuana, legal or not.

    This morning I heard that the level of poverty is up to Great Depression levels. And, we’ve shipped our manufacturing jobs overseas. What will happen when someone realizes that shipping all that stuff everywhere under the sun to get it manufactured means the $1.00 store will soon be the $10.00 store. Or, will someone please have the bright idea to put American workers back to work making things? Please? Pretty please?

    And make that Pronto.

    If we reacquired our manufacturing base, we’d be fine. Or at least better.

    And then there would be fewer heading to the liquor store, or the doctor for whatever relief can be found in a bottle. Meth use would likely also decline. But people, when desperate, reach for relief. Even if meth can kill, the depression or hopelessness also can kill. We cannot forget that fact.

    People look for drugs to numb the pain of being forced to live a week away from eviction, 52 weeks a year, just as they would stop drinking so much if they could find a job. Making things.

    The service economy is a joke. Who can buy services without a job, or when the company they work for can barely meet payroll as it is? Even small corporations are struggling. They pay the lawyers and related professionals that serve those companies little, less than they are billed, or not at all, in tough times. Accountants have tax season, lawyers have low- or non- paying clients.

    In all, increased use of marijuana or alcohol is the least of this country’s problems. The biggest is having cut the very heart out of the manufacturing economy, there will be no chance of recovery until we regain our formerly first in inventive products and manufacturing.

    Until then, the government could build roads and infrastructure. Bring back manufacturing jobs would stop those sitting at some bar from justly griping about bailing out bankers while Americans starve on minimum wage jobs. It would stop the depression caused by low or no wages in an economy where it is next to impossible to feed, clothe and college educate two kids on less than $100,000 a year. [Okay, $150,000 a year, if college is really an issue.]

    The point is the same. Thriving workers don’t have time to drink or get high. They work long hours for just compensation. We are, in this wonderful promise of a country, being robbed systematically by those who think that when the bankers do better, everyone does better. It just isn’t so.

    • Carl Nemo  September 17, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Spot-on and nicely expressed Lillibet. : )

      Our entire national paradigm has been sabotaged by terminally greedy corporatists along with the help of their paid crimpol shills in Congress.

      Carl Nemo **==

  5. Bogofree  September 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Interesting study.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101100.htm

  6. woody188  September 18, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Even with it being illegal, marijuana is the number one export out of Kentucky. Can you say cash crop worth 100 times the equivalent corn or soy?

    We already have the problems associated with the drugs, and making them legal won’t increase those problems. In fact, it would free up lots of jail space for violent offenders and save us $40 thousand per year per inmate released.

    What happened to the Chicago gangsters when alcohol prohibition ended?

    Won’t the same thing happen to those nasty Mexican border gangs?

    It’s past time to stop fighting the War on Drugs and start taxing and regulating the stuff. Let’s stop pouring $90 billion a year into the War on Drugs and start making $100 billion per year on sin taxes on the stuff.

    Aren’t our kids future wages worth it?

  7. Bluesman2008  September 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Spread the word about hemp. It could very well be our salvation:

    http://www.jackherer.com/

    All that (“Reefer Madness”) nonsense is slowly being eroded but not nearly quickly enough.

    • Carl Nemo  September 22, 2010 at 12:33 am

      Thanks Bluesman2008 for your support of hemp production. What’s fascinating about the entire concept of hemp is that its “solar powered” and being a weed doesn’t need exotic fertilization measures like most weeds who’s mission in life is to provide the first line of defense against erosion; ie., soil stabilization. So we would get great economic benefit from a plant that requires little, but provides much for its cultivation.

      Unfortunately this would have a great iimpact on those folks who produce marijuana for its psychoactive effects. The cultivation of hemp nationwide would contaminate the clandestine grows, pollenwise of those engaged in illlicit production of psychoactive varieties. This would require exotic air filtration systems to prevent such, otherwise strains would become weaker in terms of their psychoactive effects since hemp is the lower common denominator concerning such. This phenomena has been discussed in various journals dedicated to such.

      Carl Nemo **==

Comments are closed.