(HealthDay News) — Americans’ use of cocaine fell by half from 2006–2010, but marijuana use increased by more than 30% during that time, according to a new report. The spike in pot use may be due to an increase in the number of people who said they use the drug on a daily or near-daily basis, said the researchers, whose study covered drug trends from 2000–2010. Heroin use remained fairly stable during the decade, while methamphetamine use rose sharply during the first half of the decade and then fell.
Americans spent $100 billion a year on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine – or a total of $1 trillion over the decade, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center report estimated. While the overall amount spent per year on drugs remained the same from 2000–2010, spending patterns for certain drugs shifted. Much more was spent on cocaine than on marijuana in 2000, but that had reversed by 2010.
Because the report did not examine trends after 2010, it doesn’t include recent reported increases in heroin use, or the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. The report also didn’t look at the reasons behind changes in drug use and did not assess the effectiveness of drug-control strategies.
“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,” study lead author Beau Kilmer, PhD, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, said in a RAND news release.