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Cocaine Use Down, Marijuana Use Up

cocaineFrom 2006 to 2010, the use of cocaine experienced a sharp drop in the United States; however, the use of marijuana significantly increased.[1]

A report that was compile for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy studied illegal drug use in the United States from 2000 to 2010.1 Researchers found that cocaine use decreased by approximately 50 percent, while marijuana use increased by more than 30 percent.1 Heroin use remained the same, and methamphetamine consumption increased during the first half of the decade before declining in the second half.1

“Having credible estimates of the number of heavy drug users and how much they spend is critical for evaluating policies, making decisions about treatment funding, and understanding the drug revenues going to criminal organizations,” said Beau Kilmer, the study’s lead author and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “This work synthesizes information from many sources to present the best estimates to date for illicit drug consumption and spending in the United States.”1

However, because the project generated estimates through 2010 only, researchers state that it does not address the recent reported spike in heroin use or the consequences of marijuana legalization.1

Drug users in the United States spend approximately $100 billion annually on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.1 While much more was spent on cocaine than marijuana in 2000, the spending shifted, and the opposite was true by 2006.1

“Our analysis shows that Americans likely spent more than one trillion dollars on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010,” said Kilmer.1

The estimates for marijuana were based on the results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which surveys approximately 70,000 individuals each year.1 The estimates for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine were based on information from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM).1 However, the federal government recently stopped funding for ADAM, making future tracking of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine difficult.1

“The ADAM program provided unique insights about those who abused hard drugs and how much they spent on these substances,” said Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, Jonathan Caulkins. “It’s a tragedy that 2013 was the last year for ADAM. It is such an important data system for understanding drug problems.”1

For future estimates to occur, researchers recommend investments in programs like ADAM and the utilization of more self-report surveys.1



[1] RAND Corporation. (2014, March 10). U.S. cocaine use cut by half, while marijuana consumption jumps. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 11, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310141115.htm

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