Drug Use Estimates

81. Impact of Decriminalization

"The information we have presented adds to the current literature on the impacts of decriminalization. It disconfirms the hypothesis that decriminalization necessarily leads to increases in the most harmful forms of drug use. While small increases in drug use were reported by Portuguese adults, the regional context of this trend suggests that they were not produced solely by the 2001 decriminalization. We would argue that they are less important than the major reductions seen in opiate-related deaths and infections, as well as reductions in young people’s drug use. The Portuguese evidence suggests that combining the removal of criminal penalties with the use of alternative therapeutic responses to dependent drug users offers several advantages. It can reduce the burden of drug law enforcement on the criminal justice system, while also reducing problematic drug use."

Hughes, Caitlin Elizabeth and Stevens, Alex, "What can we learn from the Portugese decriminalization of drugs?" British Journal of Criminology (London, United Kingdom: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, November 2010), Vol. 50, Issue 6, p. 1018.
http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/...

82. Marijuana Decriminalization and Substitution Effects

"In conclusion, our results suggest that participation in the use of both licit and illicit drugs is price sensitive. Participation is sensitive to own prices and the price of the other drugs. In
particular, we conclude that cannabis and cigarettes are complements, and there is some evidence to suggest that cannabis and alcohol are
substitutes, although decriminalization of cannabis corresponds with higher alcohol use. Alcohol and cigarettes are found to be complements.
"The results also show that the liberalized legal status of cannabis in South Australia coincides with higher cannabis participation on average over the period under investigation. In South Australia, where possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer a criminal offence, the probability of use is estimated to be 2.0 percentage points higher than elsewhere based on the pooled sample of data. Further investigation revealed that although participation increased in South Australia shortly after the liberalization of the cannabis laws, the effect of decriminalization was transitory and had disappeared in seven years. In addition, our results indicate that the increase in participation was due to individuals over 30 delaying giving up cannabis use as a result of its changed legal status, not an increase in use
by younger people. This finding provides an explanation of why US studies based on youth fail to find that decriminalization has an impact on
the probability of cannabis use, while studies based on adults and youth, or just adults, do find a positive association between decriminalization and participation in cannabis use."

Cameron, Lisa & Williams, Jenny, "Cannabis, Alcohol and Cigarettes: Substitutes or Complements?" The Economic Record (Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia: The Economic Society of Australia, March 2001), p. 32.
http://cms.sem.tsinghua.edu.cn...

83. Occupational Injury

"We conclude that there is an association between substance use and occupational injury. This association is stronger for males and in certain industries, such as manufacturing and construction, and may also be stronger for younger workers, though future research is needed on this last point. The proportion of injuries caused by substance use, however, is relatively small. Instead, there is mounting evidence that harmful substance use is one of a constellation of behaviors exhibited by certain individuals who may avoid work-related safety precautions and take greater work-related risks. Thus, we suspect that it is more likely that risk-taking dispositions, often termed deviance proneness, and other omitted factors can explain most empirical associations between substance use and injuries at work."

Ramchand, Rajeev; Pomeroy, Amanda; Arkes, Jeremy, "The Effects of Substance Use on Workplace Injuries" Center for Health and Safety in the Workplace (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2009), p. 31.
http://www.rand.org/content/da...

84. Use in Low Income Areas

"Although residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods, neighborhoods with high concentrations of minorities, and neighborhoods with high population densities reported much higher levels of visible drug sales, they reported only slightly higher levels of drug use, along with somewhat higher levels of drug dependency. This finding indicates that conflating drug sales with use, so that poor and minority areas are assumed to be the focus of the problem of drug use, is plainly wrong. The finding is based on the data collected across 41 sites, including city and suburban (but not rural) areas in all regions."

Saxe, Leonard, PhD, Charles Kadushin, PhD, Andrew Beveridge, PhD, et al., "The Visibility of Illicit Drugs: Implications for Community-Based Drug Control Strategies," American Journal of Public Health (Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, Dec. 2001), Vol. 91, No. 12, p. 1991.
http://ajph.aphapublications.o...

85. Income and Relationship Status

"Legal and illegal use of drugs was most strongly associated with age, sex, and income. Higher income was associated with a greater likelihood of drug use for all drug types examined, which is perhaps not surprising given that drug use requires disposable income. Relationship status was linked to illegal (but not legal) drug use: both cocaine and cannabis use were more likely among persons who had never been married or previously been married."

Degenhardt, Louisa; Chiu, Wai-Tat; Sampson, Nancy; Kessler, Ronald C.; Anthony, James C.; Angermeyer, Matthias; Bruffaerts, Ronny; Girolamo, Giovanni de; Gureje, Oye; Huang, Yueqin; Karam, Aimee; Kostyuchenko, Stanislav; Lepine, Jean Pierre; Mora, Maria Elena Medina; Neumark, Yehuda; Ormel, J. Hans; Pinto-Meza, Alejandra; Posada-Villa, Jose´; Stein, Dan J.; Takeshima, Tadashi; Wells, J. Elisabeth, "Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys," Plos Medicine (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Public Library of Science, July 2008) Vol. 5, Issue 7, p. 1062.
http://www.plosmedicine.org...

86. Disadvantaged Areas

"Although serious drug use is slightly more prevalent in poor minority neighborhoods than elsewhere, the major problem for disadvantaged neighborhoods is drug distribution. These communities are victims not only of their own drug abuse but also of a criminal drug market that serves the entire society. The market establishes itself in disadvantaged communities in part because of the low social capital in these neighborhoods. The drug economy further erodes that social capital."

Saxe, Leonard, PhD, Charles Kadushin, PhD, Andrew Beveridge, PhD, et al., "The Visibility of Illicit Drugs: Implications for Community-Based Drug Control Strategies," American Journal of Public Health (Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, Dec. 2001), Vol. 91, No. 12, p. 1992.
http://ajph.aphapublications.o...

87. Punitive Drug Control Policies Have Limited Effects

"The use of drugs seems to be a feature of more affluent countries. The US, which has been driving much of the world’s drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies, as well as (in many US states), a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than many comparable developed countries. The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US, has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation level rates of illegal drug use."

Degenhardt, Louisa; Chiu, Wai-Tat; Sampson, Nancy; Kessler; Ronald C.; Anthon, James C.; Angermeyer, Matthias; Bruffaerts, Ronny; Girolamo, de Giovanni ; Gureje, Oye; Huang, Yueqin; Karam, Aimee; Kostyuchenko, Stanislav; Lepine, Jean Pierre; Mora, Maria Elena Medina; Neumark, Yehuda; Ormel, J. Hans; Pinto-Meza, Alejandra; Posada-Villa, Jose; Stein, Dan J.; Takeshima, Tadashi; Wells, J. Elisabeth, "Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys," PLoS Medicine (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Public Library of Science, July 2008) Vol. 5, Issue 7, p. 1062.
http://www.plosmedicine.org...

88. Stigmatization

"Because the impacts of problem drug users are largely hidden, and also because their number is actually relatively small (approximately 330,000; Hay et al., 2008),22 people’s understanding of problem drug use tends to come from remote sources – the media (including the internet, television, films, magazines and books) and anecdote – rather than from direct experience. This provides fertile ground for the growth of myths and stereotypes: for example, the prevalent belief in instant addiction and the myth of the drug dealer offering free drugs at the school gates."

Lloyd, Charlie, "Sinning and Sinned Against: The Stigmatisation of Problem Drug Users," (London, United Kingdom: UK Drug Policy Commission, August 2010)p. 49.
http://www.ukdpc.org.uk/public...

89. Sewage Testing

"Some scientists have recently turned to the sewer to develop a more accurate estimate of drug use. They examine tiny samples of raw sewage for the presence of illicit drugs and their metabolites in a science known as sewer epidemiology.4 These samples are essentially a diluted urine test collected from an entire community,5 making them akin to a “community urinalysis.”6 The basic science is simple: nearly every drug ingested into the body is eventually excreted and finds its way into the sewer system, allowing scientists to profile a community’s drug use based on objective data."

Hering, Christopher L., "Flushing the Fourth Amendment Down the Toilet: How Community Urinalysis Threatens Individual Liberty," Arizona Law Review (Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, 2009) Volume 51, Issue 3, p. 742.
http://www.arizonalawreview.or...

90. Drug Usage - MTF - History of the Monitoring the Future Survey Project

Monitoring the Future Survey

(MTF History) "Monitoring the Future (MTF) is designed to give sustained attention to substance use among the nation’s youth and adults. It is an investigator-initiated study that originated with and is conducted by a team of research professors at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Since its onset in 1975, MTF has been continuously funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse — one of the National Institutes of Health — under a series of peer-reviewed, competitive research grants. The 2014 survey, reported here, is the 40th consecutive survey of 12th-grade students and the 24th such survey of 8th and 10th graders.
"MTF contains ongoing series of national surveys of both American adolescents and adults. It provides the nation with a vital window into the important but largely hidden problem behaviors of illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, tobacco use, anabolic steroid abuse, and psychotherapeutic drug abuse. For four decades MTF has helped provide a clearer view of the changing topography of these problems among adolescents and adults, a better understanding of the dynamics of factors that drive some of these problems, and a better understanding of some of their consequences. It has also given policymakers, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the field some practical approaches for intervening."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (June 2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on
drug use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 1.
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

91. Long Term Trends In Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among Youth

"Marijuana use declined in the early 2000s, but subsequently rebounded before leveling in the past couple of years. In 2014 the percentage of youth who used marijuana in the past year among students in 12th, 10th, and 8th grade was 35.1%, 27.3%, and 11.7%, respectively.
"It is important to note that 8th grade students were the first to show the two major shifts in marijuana prevalence — an increase at the start of the 1990s and a decrease by the end of the 1990s. As mentioned above, this suggests that 8th graders may be the most immediately responsive to changing influences in the larger social environment. The lag in the decline in the later grades likely reflects some cohort effects (i.e., lingering effects of changes in use that occurred when the students were in lower grades).
"Levels of annual marijuana use today are considerably lower than the historic highs observed in the late 1970s, when more than half of U.S. 12th graders had used marijuana in the past year. This high point marked the pinnacle of a rise in marijuana use from relatively negligible levels before the 1960s.2
"Important changes in young people’s attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use have occurred over the study period, and these changes can account for much of the long-term decline in use, as well as the increase in use during the 1990s drug relapse. Chapter 8 contains a more thorough discussion of this issue.
"• Figure 5-4a and Table 5-5d provide trends in daily marijuana use. These trends depart somewhat from the typical pattern seen for drug use because, among 12th graders, today’s level of use is actually higher than it was at the end of the 1990s relapse period. Although daily use of marijuana declined somewhat in 2014 as compared to the previous year, the average level since 2010 (i.e., 2011–2014 combined) is the highest recorded in the past two decades. (See Chapter 10 for additional information on the cumulative amount of daily marijuana use among 12th graders. It shows that the proportion using marijuana daily for a month or more at any time in the past is considerably higher than the proportion reporting daily marijuana use during just the past month.) The overall trends follow a similar pattern in 12th, 10th, and 8th grade, and in 2014 prevalence levels of daily marijuana use were 5.8%, 3.4%, and 1.0%, respectively. About one in every 17 twelfth-grade high school students in 2014 was a daily or near-daily marijuana user.
"Still, the percentage of youth using marijuana on a daily basis today is substantially lower than its peak in the late 1970s, when it reached a high of 10.7% among 12th grade students. As we will discuss in Chapter 8, we think much of the decline from this peak is attributable to a very substantial increase in teens’ concerns about possible adverse effects from regular use and to a growing perception that peers disapproved of marijuana use, particularly regular use. The recent surge in daily marijuana use since 2009 among 12th-grade students tracks with concurrent, decreasing levels of perceived harmfulness and disapproval of regular marijuana use.
"• In 2014 marijuana use showed a one-year, slight decline in lifetime, annual, thirty-day, and daily use in all three grades. This finding is unexpected in light of the positive publicity marijuana has received in recent years prior to the data collection in 2014, with several states allowing medical marijuana use and two states (Colorado and Washington) legalizing recreational use for adults. Further, perceived risk of marijuana use among adolescents has declined in recent years (discussed in more detail in Chapter 8), which also supports an expectation for an increase in marijuana use this year. The study results point to the need for further qualitative and quantitative research to analyze why marijuana use has not increased in the last two or three years as expected."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (June 2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on
drug use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, pp. 148-149.
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

92. Alcohol Use Among US Youth, 2014

"• Alcohol and cigarettes are the two major licit drugs included in the MTF surveys, though even these are legally prohibited for purchase by those the age of most of our respondents. Alcohol use is more widespread than use of illicit drugs. About two thirds of 12th-grade students (66%) have at least tried alcohol, and more than one third (37%) are current drinkers — that is, they reported consuming some alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey (Table 4-2). Even among 8th graders, more than a quarter (27%) reported any alcohol use in their lifetime, and one in eleven (9%) is a current (past 30 day) drinker.4
"• Of greater concern than just any use of alcohol is its use to the point of inebriation: In 2014 one ninth of all 8th graders (11%), three tenths of 10th graders (30%), and half of all 12th graders (50%) said they had been drunk at least once in their lifetime. The levels of selfreported drunkenness during the 30 days immediately preceding the survey are strikingly high — 3%, 11%, and 24%, respectively, for grades 8, 10, and 12."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (June 2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on
drug use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 85.
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

93. Cigarette Use Among US Youth, 2014

"• Prevalence of cigarettes is generally higher than for any of the illicit drugs, except for marijuana. About one third (34%) of 12th graders reported having tried cigarettes at some time, and one seventh (14%) smoked in the prior 30 days. Even among 8th graders, about one seventh (14%) reported having tried cigarettes and 4% reported smoking in the prior 30 days. Among 10th graders, 23% reported having tried cigarettes, and 7.2% reported smoking in the prior 30 days. The percentages reporting smoking cigarettes in the prior 30 days are actually lower in all three grades in 2014 than the percentages reporting using marijuana in the prior 30 days: 4.0% for cigarettes versus 6.5% for marijuana in 8th grade; 7.2% versus 16.6% in 10th grade; and 13.6% versus 21.2% in 12th grade. These numbers reflect mostly the considerable decline in cigarette use that has occurred in recent years, though the recent increase in marijuana use has contributed to their standing relative to each other as well. Among 8th, 10th and 12th graders, lifetime prevalence of marijuana use in 2014 was also higher than lifetime prevalence of cigarette use. (Annual prevalence of cigarettes is not assessed.) As noted below, however, daily use in the prior 30 days was higher for cigarettes than for marijuana or alcohol in 8th and 12th grades. For 10th graders marijuana daily use was higher than daily cigarette use (3.4% versus 3.2%)."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (June 2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 85.
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

94. Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs and Narcotics Other Than Heroin Among US Youth

"Any prescription drug misuse includes use of narcotics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and/or amphetamines without medical supervision. It has been of considerable public health concern in recent years, because most of these drugs showed a substantial increase in use in the 1990s, which then continued into the first decade of the 2000s, when many of the illegal drugs already were in decline.
"Only 12th-graders report on their use of all of these drugs; they show a statistically significant decline between 2013 and 2014, from 16 percent to 14 percent, saying that they used one or more of these prescription drugs in the 12 months prior to the survey. The gradual turnaround began after 2005, when 17 percent indicated misuse of any of these drugs.
"'It's not as much progress as we might like to see, but at least the number of students using these dangerous prescription drugs is finally declining,' Johnston said.
"Narcotic drugs other than heroin—among the most dangerous of the prescription drugs—have been declining in use by 12th-graders since 2009, when 9 percent indicated using them without medical supervision in the prior 12 months. Their use continued to drop significantly, from 7 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2014. Use of these drugs is reported only for 12th grade; students are reporting that these drugs are increasingly difficult to obtain.
"Use in the prior 12 months of the specific narcotic analgesic OxyContin also declined this year, significantly so in 8th grade. OxyContin use reached a recent peak among adolescents around 2009 and use has declined since then in all three grades. The 2014 reports of use in the past 12 months stand at 1.0 percent, 3.0 percent and 3.3 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively."

Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., Miech, R.A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 16, 2014). "Use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs declines among U.S. teens," University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, pp. 3-4.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

95. Perceived Availability of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Among US Youth

"• Substantial differences were found in perceived availability of the various drugs. In general, the more widely used drugs are reported to be available by higher proportions of the age group, as would be expected (see Tables 9-6, 9-7, and 9-8). Also, older age groups generally perceive drugs to be more available. For example, in 2013, 39% of 8th graders said marijuana would be fairly easy or very easy to get (which we refer to as 'readily available'), versus 70% of 10th graders and 81% of 12th graders. In fact, compared to 8th graders, the proportion of 12th graders indicating that drugs are available to them is two to four times as high for other drugs included in the study and five times as high for narcotics other than heroin. (Tranquilizers, on the other hand, are reported as only a little less available by 8th graders.) Both associations are consistent with the notion that availability is largely attained through friendship circles. (A section in Chapter 10 documents where 12th graders obtain prescription drugs that are not medically prescribed, and friends clearly are the leading source.) The differences among age groups may also reflect less willingness and/or motivation on the part of those who deal drugs to establish contact with younger adolescents. Because many inhalants — such as glues, butane, and aerosols — are universally available, we do not ask about their availability. See Table 9-8 for the full list of drugs included in the questions for 12th graders; a few of these drugs were not asked of the younger students (see Tables 9-6 and 9-7).
"• Measures on the availability of cigarettes are not included in the 12th-grade questionnaires because we have assumed that they are almost universally available to this age group. However, data on this measure are collected from 8th and 10th graders, which clearly show that cigarettes are readily available to most of them. In 2013, 50% of 8th graders and 71% of 10th graders thought that cigarettes would be fairly easy or very easy for them to get if they wanted some.
"• The great majority of teens also see alcohol as readily available: In 2013, 56% of 8th graders, 77% of 10th graders, and 90% of 12th graders said it would be fairly easy or very easy to get."

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. & Miech, R. A. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, pp. 452-453.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

96. Attitudes of Young People Toward Legalization of Marijuana

"• Table 8-8 lists the proportions of 12th graders in 2013 who favor various legal consequences for marijuana use: making it entirely legal (42%), a minor violation like a parking ticket but not a crime (25%), or a crime (21%). The remaining 13% said they 'don’t know.' It is noteworthy just how variable attitudes about this contentious issue are.
"• Asked whether they thought it should be legal to sell marijuana if it were legal to use it, about three in five (61%) said 'yes.' However, about 85% of those answering 'yes' (52% of all respondents) would permit sale only to adults. A small minority (9%) favored the sale to anyone, regardless of age, while 29% said that sale should not be legal even if use were made legal, and 10% said they 'don’t know.' Thus, while the majority subscribe to the idea of legal sale, if use is allowed, the great majority agree with the notion that sale to underage people should not be legal."

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. & Miech, R. A. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 400.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

97. Perceived Effect of Legalization on Youth

"Most 12th graders felt that they would be little affected personally by the legalization of either the sale or the use of marijuana. Over half (56%) of the respondents said that they would not use the drug even if it were legal to buy and use, while others indicated they would use it about as often as they do now (15%) or less often (1.5%). Only 9% said they would use it more often than they do at present, while 10% thought they would try it. Another 9% said they did not know how their behavior would be affected if marijuana were legalized. Still, this amounts to 19% of all seniors, or about one in five, who thought that they would try marijuana, or that their use would increase, if marijuana were legalized."

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. & Miech, R. A. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, pp. 400-401.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

98. Effects of Decriminalization and Legalization on Adolescent Substance Use

"• Most 12th graders felt that they would be little affected personally by the legalization of either the sale or the use of marijuana. Over half (53%) of the respondents said that they would not use the drug even if it were legal to buy and use, while others indicated that they would use it about as often as they do now (14%) or less often (1%). Only 9% said they would use it more often than they do at present, while 13% thought they would try it. Another 11% said they did not know how their behavior would be affected if marijuana were legalized. Still, this amounts to 22% of all 12th graders, or about one in five, who thought that they would try marijuana, or that their use would increase, if marijuana were legalized.
"• A study of the effects of decriminalization by several states during the late 1970s, based on MTF data, found no evidence of any impact on the use of marijuana among young people, nor on attitudes and beliefs concerning its use.13 However, it should be noted that decriminalization falls well short of the full legalization posited in the questions here. Moreover, the situation today is very different from the one in the late 1970s, with more peer disapproval and more rigorous enforcement of drug laws, at least until very recently. Some more recent studies suggest that there might be an impact of decriminalization, because 'youths living in decriminalized states are significantly more likely to report currently using marijuana.'14 One study using MTF data shows that prevalence of marijuana use among 12th-grade Californian students significantly increased in the two years after decriminalization went into effect in 2011, and youth attitudes also became significantly more permissive.15 As more states approve full legalization for adults, (as has occurred in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC), it seems quite possible that attitudes about and use of marijuana will change. Declines in perceived risk and disapproval of marijuana would seem the most likely attitudinal changes, and such changes may well lead to increased use among youth."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2016). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2015: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 398. Available at http://monitoringthefuture.org...
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

99. Trends in Attitudes of US 12th Graders Toward Legalization of Any Illegal Drugs

"• From 1975 through 1978, there were modest declines (shifts of five to seven percentage points, depending on the substance) in the proportions of 12th graders who favored legal prohibition of private use of any of the five illicit drugs (see Table 8-7). But by 1990 (12 years later), all of these proportions had increased substantially, with shifts of 8 to 31 percentage points. The proportion who thought marijuana use in private should be prohibited by law more than doubled, from 25% in 1978 to 56% in 1990—a dramatic shift.
"• Then, between 1990 and 1997, positions on prohibition of all illicit drug use softened once again, particularly in the case of marijuana use in private. After 1997 these attitudes were fairly stable, or continued to soften slightly. For example, in 2013, 69% thought taking amphetamines or sedatives (barbiturates) in public should be prohibited, down from 77% in 1997.
"• One important change in these attitudes that occurred after 2006 is increased tolerance for the use of marijuana in private, as the proportion favoring prohibition declined from 42% in 2006 to 32% in 2013. Tolerance for public use of marijuana increased after 2008, when 70% thought such use should be prohibited, dropping to 61% by 2013.
"• The proportions favoring prohibitions on the use in private of some other drugs have also declined since about 2007, including LSD (from 64% to 58% in 2013), amphetamines or sedatives (barbiturates) (from 54% to 49%), and heroin (from 73% to 71%)."

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. & Miech, R. A. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, pp. 399-400.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

100. Supply Reduction Versus Demand Reduction

"Overall, supply reduction—that is, reducing the availability of drugs—does not appear to have played as major a role as many had assumed in four of the five most important downturns in illicit drug use that have occurred to date, namely, those for marijuana, cocaine, crack, and ecstasy (see, for example, Figures 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6). The case of cocaine is particularly striking, as perceived availability actually rose during much of the period of downturn in use that began in the mid- 1980s. (These data are corroborated by data from the Drug Enforcement Administration on trends in the price and purity of cocaine on the streets.8) For marijuana, perceived availability has remained very high for 12th graders since 1976, while use dropped substantially from 1979 through 1992 and has fluctuated considerably thereafter. Perceived availability for ecstasy did increase in parallel with increasing use in the 1990s, but the decline phase for use appears to have been driven much more by changing beliefs about the dangers of ecstasy than by any sharp downturn in availability. Similarly, amphetamine use declined appreciably from 1981 to 1992, with only a modest corresponding change in perceived availability. Finally, until 1995, heroin use had not risen among 12th graders even though availability had increased substantially.

"• What did change dramatically were young peoples’ beliefs about the dangers of using marijuana, cocaine, crack, and ecstasy. We believe that increases in perceived risk led to a decrease in use directly through their impact on young people’s demand for these drugs and indirectly through their impact on personal disapproval and, subsequently, peer norms. Because the perceived risk of amphetamine use was changing little when amphetamine use was declining substantially (1981–1986), other factors must have helped to account for the decline in demand for that class of drugs—quite conceivably some displacement by cocaine. Because three classes of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines) have shown different patterns of change, it is highly unlikely that a general factor (e.g., a broad shift in attitudes about drug use) can explain their various trends.

"• The increase in marijuana use in the 1990s among 12th graders added more compelling evidence to this interpretation. It was both preceded and accompanied by a decrease in perceived risk. (Between 1991 and 1997, the perceived risk of regular marijuana use declined 21 percentage points.) Perceived peer disapproval dropped sharply from 1993 through 1997, after perceived risk began to change, consistent with our interpretation that perceived risk can be an important determinant of disapproval as well as of use. Perceived availability remained fairly constant from 1991 to 1993 and then increased seven percentage points through 1998.9

"• We do think that the expansion in the world supply of heroin, particularly in the 1990s, had the effect of dramatically raising the purity of heroin available on the streets, thus allowing for new means of ingestion, such as snorting and smoking. The advent of new forms of heroin, rather than any change in respondents’ beliefs about the dangers associated with injecting heroin, very likely contributed to the fairly sharp increase in heroin use in the 1990s. Evidence from this study, showing that a significant portion of the self-reported heroin users in recent years are using by means other than injection, lends credibility to this interpretation. The dramatic decline in LSD use in the early to mid 2000s is also not explainable by means of concurrent changes in perceived risk or disapproval; but availability did decline sharply during this period and very likely played a key role in reducing the use of that drug.

"We should also note that other factors, such as price, could play an important role for some drugs. Analyses of MTF data have shown, for example, that price probably played an important role in the decline of marijuana use in the 1980s, and in changes in cigarette use in the 1990s.10,11 However, price does not appear to have the same influence in all periods for all drugs, as the dramatic reduction in cocaine prevalence during the late 1980s took place at the same time that the price of cocaine decreased,12 contrary to the supply/demand model."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2018). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2017: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at
http://monitoringthefuture.org...
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