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

in Music

Lily Allen’s fake handcuff photo sparks police investigation

Lily Allen poses for photographers on the red carpet at the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House on Sunday Feb. 16, 2014, in London.

A police investigation launches after Lily Allen shares an Instagram.com photo of herself pretending to be arrested by a cop in Australia.

in Music

Aretha Franklin storms out of fast food joint

FILE - In this May 11, 2013 file photo, Aretha Franklin performs during McDonald's Gospelfest 2013 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.Franklin won’t say what has caused her latest health problems, but says she’s had a “miraculous” recovery and is looking forward to performing soon.In a phone interview on Tuesday, Aug. 20, Franklin said that she recently had a cat scan and that it showed she was 85 percent improved. The 71-year-old has canceled several concerts and public appearances and blamed it on unspecified treatment.

Aretha Franklin stormed out a Johnny Rockets in Ontario, Canada last week after a nasty encounter with a rude employee.

in Music

Liam Payne causes online storm with ‘naked’ picture

One Direction performing live in concert during their 'Where We Are' tour at Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Liam Payne whipped One Direction fans into a frenzy when he posted a supposedly nude photo of himself on the back of a yacht.

in Music

Nicki Minaj delays release of new ‘Anaconda’ single

Nicki Minaj

After taking criticism for a controversial album cover, Nicki Minaj mysteriously pushes the release of her new single back a week.

in Entertainment

Fans support campaign to keep Sean Bean alive in new show

British actor Sean Bean arrives for a special UK screening of Cleanskin, at the Mayfair Hotel in central London, Monday, March 5, 2012.

The "Game of Thrones" actor has died more than 20 times in his career, and fans want it to stop.