Study of Those Arrested Finds Less Cocaine, More Marijuana

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In a fascinating picture of the drug trends across the nation, US News reported on a study from the Drug Abuse Monitoring Annual Report put out by the Department of Justice. The information shows how trends in drug abuse change over the years 2007 to 2011.

This snapshot is trusted over other types of data gathering because it is based on both interviews from those arrested and actual tests done to determine which substances they currently have in their systems. It shows that marijuana is by far the most commonly abused drug and that cocaine use has fallen over the same years that marijuana use has risen.

Sacramento, CA showed the highest use at 56% of those arrested testing positive for marijuana. This may be significant because of the legalization in California, but it isn’t dramatically different from the 50% levels seen in New York. Overall, of those arrested, 60% test positive for one or more illegal substances.

There is some question as to whether the marijuana usage levels may be reflecting how long the drug is detectable in the human body – weeks or months for regular users – as compared to cocaine, which clears rather quickly (days). However, even with this in mind, comparing positive tests year over year for a specific drug will still indicate a change for that substance.

Cocaine, at a national average of about 25% of those arrested is the second most commonly abused substance in this population, with methamphetamine spiking higher in some cities, but not nationwide.

The drugs tested for this report were: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/methamphetamine, Darvon, PCP, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates. Interestingly, alcohol was not part of the survey and would likely have swamped the data.

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