News

Puff, puff, pass: More Americans are smoking pot

Puff, puff, pass: More Americans are smoking pot

SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM:In December, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana, a pioneering social experiment aimed at wresting the business from criminals that will be closely watched by others debating drug liberalization. Photo: Associated Press

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA (Reuters) – More Americans are consuming cannabis as their perception of the health risks declines, the U.N. drugs and crime agency said on Thursday, suggesting legalization may further increase its use among the young.

In a finding that could feed into an international debate on the decriminalize of marijuana, it said more people around the world, including in North America, were seeking treatment for cannabis-related disorders.

It was still too early to understand the impact of recent legalization moves in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado and the South American country of Uruguay, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its 2014 World Drug Report.

However, for youth and young adults “more permissive cannabis regulations correlate with decreases in the perceived risk of use”, which in turn may affect consumption, the report said.

Research suggests that declining risk perception and increased availability can lead to wider use and to more young people being introduced to the drug, the UNODC said.

Global cannabis use seemed to have decreased, it said, reflecting a decline in some European countries.

“However, in the United States, the lower perceived risk of cannabis use has led to an increase in its use,” UNODC said, without specifying what may have caused this change.

Voters in Washington and Colorado in 2012 became the first in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana, but U.S. federal laws still prohibit sales.

Citing statistics from before the new rules took effect, the UNODC said the number of people in the United States aged 12 or more who used cannabis at least once in the previous year rose to 12.1 percent in 2012 from 10.3 percent in 2008.

“WAR ON DRUGS”

Regarding other narcotics, a surge in opium production in Afghanistan – where the area under cultivation jumped by 36 percent in 2013 – was “a setback”, while the global availability of cocaine fell as production declined from 2007 to 2012.

Last year, the worldwide output of heroin “rebounded to the high levels witnessed” in 2008 and 2011, UNODC added. “Up to 200,000 people die every year due to illicit drugs,” UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.

In December, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana, a pioneering social experiment aimed at wresting the business from criminals that will be closely watched by others debating drug liberalization.

Critics say legalization will not only increase consumption but open the door to the use of harder drugs than marijuana.

“Although the general public may perceive cannabis to be the least harmful illicit drug, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of persons seeking treatment for cannabis use disorders over the past decade,” the UNODC said.

But with the U.S.-led war on drugs facing mounting criticism, success in Uruguay could fuel legalization momentum elsewhere.

In a joint statement, a group of non-governmental organizations, including New York-based Open Society Foundations and Release in London, called on governments to put an end to “the expensive and counter-productive” anti-drugs war.

(Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Recent Headlines

9 mins ago in Local

Qik-N-Ez Robbery Suspect in Arrested

Fresh
arrest clipart

Cody Desilva was found with two other subjects in a car on 4th Street early Saturday morning. The other two persons were released.

15 hours ago in Local

Multiple Accident Ties Up Traffic: Police Cite Driver With Medical Emergency

ambulance

A multiple accident ties up traffic in Springfield during morning rush hour.

15 hours ago in Local

Home Health Care Advocates Beg Governor Rauner To Keep Overtime

SEIU_Healthcare

Advocates of Home Health Care push for Governor Rauner to reconsider banning overtime

19 hours ago in Local

Springfield-Based Ag Manufacturer Takes Over Utah Company

brandt fertilizer

A Springfield-based agriculture products manufacturer is on the move once again to expand its portfolio.

19 hours ago in Local

Former Springfield Administrator Officially Out in Galesburg

Tammie Bolden WGIL

A former Springfield school principal and teacher is officially now out of a job at the place she left the capital for.