|Photo: Associated Press|
|Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: Marijuana is “an entry drug”|
A new U.S. government report blames increased marijuana use for a rise in the overall use of illicit drugs among Americans. That’s good news, for anyone who’s familiar with just how non-toxic is marijuana, compared with other illegal drugs.
The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows the rate of “illicit drug use” (including marijuana) rose from eight percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009, reports Peter Maer at CBS News. The survey also found more use of ecstasy and methamphetamine.
Officials claim they are especially concerned about use of illegal drugs by young people. The survey, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found 21.2 percent of young adults experimented with illegal drugs in 2009.
The trend “was also driven in large part by the use of marijuana,” according to the report.
National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said young people are being exposed to “mixed messages” about marijuana, including the idea that it is a medicine.
Marijuana “may have properties that have medicinal values that should be tested,” Kerlikowske said, but the Drug Czar insisted that cannabis is not medicine.
Kerlikowske claimed marijuana was “an entry drug.”
Less than half of young people believe using marijuana is harmful, according to the survey.
The Obama Administration remains strongly opposed to the legalization of cannabis.
While the report emphasizes the supposed detrimental effects of marijuana, Kerlikowske said abuse of prescription drugs is among his top concerns because “young people don’t perceive them as dangerous or addictive.”
The availability of prescription medications in home medicine cabinets often makes them widely available to young people. The non-medical use of prescription drugs rose slightly in 2009, to nearly three percent of the population.
The Obama Administration is seeking a 13 percent increase in funding for the federal Drug War, although Kerlikowske now officially rejects the term, “War On Drugs.”
“If we approach it with the same level of complexity that we approach things like cancer, I think we’re better off than telling the American public, here’s a bumper sticker to solve your problem,” Kerlikowske said.