According to a report released this Tuesday, consumers of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine in the United States spent some 150.000 million dollars in 2016, a figure similar to that spent by the population on alcoholic beverages. The newspaper
By Miami Diario Newsroom
Gregory Midgette, from the University of Maryland and one of the authors of the study on the real size of the drug market in the United States, explained that the use of cocaine has decreased significantly, and at the same time the use of marijuana and cannabis has been increasing for several years.
According to the researcher, in the case of marijuana, in particular, what has been changing is the perception of citizens at the state level.
The estimated number of cocaine users in the United States has gradually declined since 2006, according to the report. The work was prepared for the research firm Rand Corporation, due to the existence of 3,8 million regular consumers.
For heroin, the best estimate shows some 1,6 million "chronic users" in 2006, rising by 10% a year to 2,3 million users a decade later.
The report adds that "although heroin use was concentrated for decades in urban areas, particularly in the northeast of the country, its use has expanded to the entire nation, including rural areas, amid the current opiate crisis" .
The work states that most of the heroin consumed in the US comes from crops in Mexico and adds: "the introduction of fentanyl in the heroin markets, mainly from China and Mexico, has increased the risk of its consumption".
Fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever 50 times more powerful than heroin, is used to enhance the effects of heroin and is credited with the rise in overdose deaths in recent times.
The number of methamphetamine users is estimated to have risen from 2,2 million in 2016 to 3,2 million people in 2016, according to the report.
But the growth has been much greater in terms of marijuana use, going from an estimated 14,2 million users in 2006 to 22,8 million a decade later, which is equivalent to an increase of 60%.
The investigation indicates that there are ten US states. In addition to the District of Columbia, which have legalized the non-medical use of marijuana, in conflict with federal law, which prohibits it, but which do not distinguish between expenses for consumption lawful or not.
The report ensures that marijuana continues to attract attention as more states relax their laws (...). More than 25% of the US population now lives in states that have passed laws allowing private companies to produce and sell non-medical marijuana to adults 21 and older."
However, the illicit drug problem in the United States is rooted in legal issues, and the RAND researchers factored drug seizures, prosecutions, and convictions into their report.
Midgette indicated that they used “reports from people who report drug use and those who enter treatment programs. We use all available information.”
Beau Kilmer, another of the study's authors, noted that numerous indicators suggest methamphetamine use has exceeded its previous peak from 2005."