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Marijuana use rises in U.S. as illicit drug use decreases

The use of the drug marijuana has been rising in the United States and the use of methamphetamines is waning, according to a national survey of drug use that was released on Thursday and reported by MSNBC News. Marijuana is increasingly becoming the drug of choice among young adults in the U.S.

Here are some statistics from a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Overall, 8.9 percent of the U.S. population (22.6 million Americans aged 12 and older) used illicit drugs in 2010. In 2009, 8.7 percent used and in 2008, 8 percent used. Of those users 18 to 25 years old, 21.5 percent used in 2010, 19.6 percent used in 2008 and 21.2 percent used in 2009.

As far as marijuana use was concerned, the study showed that: Overall, 6.9 percent of the U.S. population (17.4 million Americans) were using in 2010 and in 2007, 5.8 percent were using (14.4 million).

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the United States said increases are especially prominent in states in which medical marijuana use is legal, according to MSNBC.

Kerlikowske said in a statement, “Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use.”

Kerlikowske shared that he blames the increase in illicit drug usage to the gateway drug, marijuana.

Kerlikowske stated, "This increase was also driven in large part by a rise in the rate of current marijuana use among this population [18-25]."

Use of methamphetamines; however, has been decreasing, as has cocaine usage, alcohol usage and smoking, according to MSNBC reports.

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