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Drug philosophy changing throughout U.S.

Newly released information about drug use in the United States has shown that marijuana continues to be the most commonly abused illegal drug in the nation. In fact, the propensity for marijuana use spans most age groups, with both teens and adults preferring that substance over other illegal drugs. Surprisingly, the most recent survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that heroin use is on the rise.

The statistics come in the wake of wide-reaching national drug law reform, initiated by the U.S. Attorney General. In Kansas and many other states, drug offenders are being required to serve minimum sentences in actual prison rather than receiving the rehabilitation and other services that would be beneficial. The vast majority of drug offenders in our nation's jails are not distributors or violent criminals, but everyday users whose unfortunate addiction has been criminalized.

SAMHSA administrators characterize the statistics as a demonstration of the increased addiction rates in America. The hope of treatment and recovery is key to those whose families have been affected by addictive drug use, particularly among those who engage in heroin abuse.

Still, about 7.3 percent of Americans over the age of 12 admit to marijuana use during the past year. The 2012 report shows a significant increase over just five years earlier, with 5.8 percent using pot in 2007. The study comes in the wake of new reforms and announcements from the federal government that lawsuits would not be forthcoming against states that have legalized marijuana. Colorado and Washington, the first states to authorize the statewide recreational use of pot, could have been punished through federal mandates for their refusal to comply.

In essence, it appears that a key shift is occurring with regard to perception of pot and heroin usage. In many cases, even the federal government is focusing on crimes committed by big-time criminals instead of simple users, who need rehabilitation services more than they need jail time.

Source:, "New U.S. drug survey: Marijuana and heroin increasing" Ryan Jaslow, Sep. 04, 2013

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