To the editor:
As the nation takes a softer stance on marijuana more Americans are using the drug. It is important to look at the number of Americans who have been surveyed and report current use of marijuana - to understand truly how involved individuals are with this substance.
The National Survey on Drug Use, made public recently, found that 7.3 percent of Americans 12 years or older regularly used marijuana in 2012, up from 7 percent in 2011.
Marijuana use has increased steadily over the past five years. The report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services surveyed 70,000 people ages 12 and older throughout the country. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that the Justice Department would not challenge states which legalized small amounts of marijuana if the states have strict measures to keep the drug away from minors and have taken steps to regulate drugs.
The states of Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana and 20 states have approved marijuana for medical use. Prior to U.S. Attorney General Holder's announcement, marijuana users could have faced federal prosecution even if they adhered to state laws and local regulations.
Nearly 24 million Americans, 9.2 percent of the population, use illicit drugs, according to the survey. Illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. It is also known as the gateway drug as most serious drug abusers begin with marijuana.
Even though the survey found improvement in some aspects of substance abuse, we must redouble our efforts to reduce and/or eliminate all forms of illicit drugs throughout our nation. Legalizing the drugs only increases the problem.
The National Survey on Drug Use represents real people, families and communities dealing with the devastating consequences of drug abuse and addiction.