Findings of a new study have shown that marijuana use in the United States has significantly increased by 30 percent from 2006 to 2010 while cocaine consumption has dropped by about half during the same period.
In a study "What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, 2000-2010" published on the website of the U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), researchers connected with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center reported that use of marijuana in the U.S. has increased by 30 percent from 2006 to 2010 but consumption of cocaine fell by almost half during the same period.
By studying the illegal drug use in the country from 2000 to 2010, the researchers also found that heroin consumption remained fairly stable throughout the decade while methamphetamine consumption increased during the first half of the decade but declined later on. The researchers, however, admitted they did not have enough data to come up with a credible estimate of methamphetamine consumption for the period between 2008 and 2010.
"From 2006 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed in the United States likely increased more than 30 percent, while the amount of cocaine consumed in the United States decreased by approximately 50 percent. These figures are consistent with supply-side indicators, such as seizures and production estimates," the researchers reported. "Methamphetamine consumption rose sharply from 2000 through the middle of the decade, and this was followed by a large decline through 2008. Heroin consumption remained fairly stable throughout the decade, although there is some evidence of an increase in the later years."
The study, which covers estimates of retail spending on illegal drugs and the number of chronic users responsible for majority of drug use in the U.S., also showed that Americans spend $100 billion per year on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine, or a total of $1 trillion from 2000 to 2010.
"Our analysis shows that Americans likely spent more than one trillion dollars on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010," said study author and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center Beau Kilmer.
The researchers used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to find estimates for marijuana, and information from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) to come up with estimates for cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The final estimates though included information from other sources.
"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," Kilmer said. "This work synthesizes information from many sources to present the best estimates to date for illicit drug consumption and spending in the United States."