By The Numbers: Coke, Crack, Pot, Speed 

  By The Numbers: Coke, Crack, Pot, Speed 

Posted by FoM on December 12, 2000 at 21:32:33 PT
Sociology - Drug Abuse 
Source: Scientific American 

In 1999 illegal drug use resulted in 555,000 emergency room visits, of which 30 percent were for cocaine, 16 percent for marijuana or hashish, 15 percent for heroin or morphine, and 2 percent for amphetamines. Alcohol in combination with other drugs accounted for 35 percent. This is not the first time that the U.S. has suffered a widespread health crisis brought on by drug abuse. 
In the 1880s (legal) drug companies began selling medications containing cocaine, which had only recently been synthesized from the leaves of the coca plant. Furthermore, pure cocaine could be bought legally at retail stores. Soon there were accounts of addiction and sudden death from cardiac arrest and stroke among users, as well as cocaine-related crime. Much of the blame for crime fell on blacks, although credible proof of the allegations never surfaced. Reports of health and crime problems associated with the drug contributed to rising public pressure for reform, which led in time to a ban on retail sales of cocaine under the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914. This and later legislation contributed to the near elimination of the drug in the 1920s.Cocaine use revived in the 1970s, long after its deleterious effects had faded from memory. By the mid-1980s history repeated itself as the U.S. rediscovered the dangers of the drug, including its new form, crack. Crack was cheap and could be smoked, a method of delivery that intensified the pleasure and the risk. Media stories about its evils, sometimes exaggerated, were apparently the key element in turning public sentiment strongly in favor of harsh sentences, even for possession. The result was one of the most important federal laws of recent years, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. It was enacted hurriedly without benefit of committee hearings, so great was the pressure to do something about the problem. Because crack was seen as uniquely addictive and destructive, the law specified that the penalty for possession of five grams would be the same as that for possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine.African-Americans were much more likely than whites to use crack, and so, as in the first drug epidemic, they came under greater obloquy. Because of the powder cocaine/crack penalty differential and other inequities in the justice system, blacks were far more likely to go to prison for drug offenses than whites, even though use of illicit drugs overall was about the same among both races. Blacks account for 13 percent of those who use illegal drugs but 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for possession. In fact, the 1986 federal law and certain state laws led to a substantial rise in the number of people arrested for possession of illegal drugs, at a time when arrests for sale and manufacture had stabilized.The data in the chart catch the declining phase of the U.S. drug epidemic that started in the 1960s with the growing popularity of marijuana and, later, cocaine. Use of illegal drugs in the U.S. has fallen substantially below the extraordinarily high levels of the mid-1980s and now appears to have steadied, but hidden in the overall figures is a worrisome trend in the number of new users of illegal drugs in the past few years, such as an increase in new cocaine users from 500,000 in 1994 to 900,000 in 1998. In 1999 an estimated 14.8 million Americans were current users of illegal drugs, and of these 3.6 million were drug-dependent.The decline in overall use occurred for several reasons, including the skittishness of afşuent cocaine users, who were made wary by negative media stories. The drop in the number of people in the 18-to-25 age group, in which drug use is greatest, was probably also a factor, and prevention initiatives by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, headed by Gen. Barry McCaffrey, may have had some beneficial effect. The decrease in illegal drug use in the 1980s and early 1990s was part of a broad trend among Americans to use less psychoactive substances of any kind, including alcohol and tobacco.Even with the decline, the U.S. way of dealing with illegal drugs is widely seen by experts outside the government as unjust, far too punitive and having the potential for involving the country in risky foreign interventions. The system has survived for so many years because the public supports it and has not focused on the defects. Surveys show that most Americans favor the system, despite calls by several national figures for drug legalization, and there is little evidence that support is softening.Author: Rodger DoyleContact: rdoyle2 aol.comSource: Scientific American (US)Author: Rodger DoylePublished: January 1, 2001Copyright: 2000 Scientific American, IncContact: editors sciam.comWebsite: Articles:Marijuana Firmly Linked to Infertility Narcotics Tax Act, 1914

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Comment #6 posted by Matt Elrod on December 13, 2000 at 09:36:19 PT:
ER Mentions
"In 1999 illegal drug use resulted in 555,000 emergency room visits, of which 30 percent   were for cocaine, 16 percent for marijuana or hashish, 15 percent for heroin or   morphine, and 2 percent for amphetamines."Actually, these visits were not a "result" of drugs. Thenumbers are based on the annual DAWN survey of emergencyroom "mentions". A "mention" means that, when asked ifthey had used a drug within the previous 24 hours beforevisiting an ER, patients answer in the affirmative. Inother words, if smoke a joint Friday night, stub my toethe next morning and tell nurse Rachet that I smoked ajoint the previous night, it gets counted as a cannabisER mention.The reality is, when cannabis use increases, drug-relatedaccidents and ER mentions for all other drugs goes down.This is due to what scientists call the "substitutioneffect". See
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Comment #5 posted by Smokeless in Seattle on December 13, 2000 at 03:59:35 PT
Not-so-Scientific American
This gets better as we go...88,800 hospital admissions because of marijuana? Yes, it must be that they are counting anything that happens to someone who admits they were smoking pot as an 'admission becuase of MJ use' - what bullsh*t.Add up those numbers - that's only 63% - so what happened to the other 205,000 admissions "due to illegal drugs"? And where is ALCOHOL in these stats, quite possibly one of the most debilitating drugs of all? A respected Professor of Medicine and Anatomy at an Ivy League medical school told me (YES told me, in person) that in 1992, fully 50 percent of all hospital admissions are due directly or indirectly to alcohol.Now it's true that Americans are using less substances; a mild but telling stat was shown to me by my father, of all people. His friends would get together at someones house every so often, and liquor of course would be served. My dad told me that through the years, he'd have to buy less and less of the stuff each time, 'cause people were not drinking it. Beacuse of the war on drugs? I think not LOL.One positive thing (the only one) that's come out of all this "war" stuff is that people realize the dangers of substance abuse. As a society, among the more educated (and affluent, yes) there seems to be a trend towards more healthy endeavors and past-times; witness the demise of the old 'two martini lunch', once so prevalent in corporate america.On the negative side, the less educated and less affluent sector of america has been embroiled more and more in this phony drug war. Who do you think smokes all that crack? Not AL Gore or George W. Bush, I assure you. It just so happens that most of the cocaine around goes to this market, crack being cheap and easy to manufacture and easy to conceal. If a young poor person wants to get high on this poison, a mere 3 or 5 dollars will keep them busy (for about 30 minutes- that's where the crime factor comes in, rob someone of 30 dollars and you'll be high for hours). "Scientific American" - it's becoming an oxymoron when speaking of drugs and their prohibition.SiS
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Comment #4 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on December 13, 2000 at 03:32:05 PT:
Statistical Aberration
Usually this kind of garbage about cannabis is based on random urine tests for drugs of abuse. In other words, if someone is a passenger in a car which is in an accident gets tested and cannabinoids appear in the urine based on smoking a reefer 2 weeks ago, it gets counted according to this scheme. What does it really mean? Absolutely nothing! Nothing, except that the government espouses groundless propaganda. Who still believes? Those who wish to believe.
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Comment #3 posted by Ed Carpenter on December 13, 2000 at 02:31:44 PT:
Scientific American: by the numbers...
"Surveys show that most Americans favor the system, despitecalls by several national figures for drug legalization, and there is little evidence that support is softening."What's this guy smoking? Support for the drug war is dissolving as we speak.
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on December 13, 2000 at 01:31:51 PT
"credible proof"
 What a crock...Mr. Doyle seems like he was forced to write this spineless piece of obviously screened ondcp approved rubbish. ...."Much of the blame for crime fell on blacks, although credible proof of the allegations never surfaced.".Hmmm,,speaking of credible proof,,I wonder why the figures in the first paragraph,have no source,,or anything resembling credible proof?Could it be that the same type people who blamed the blacks back then,are still around supplying these highly dubious"statistics"? And of course,I enjoyed the akward plug,giving the czar credit. Scientific American Propaganda.................................................................................dddd
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Comment #1 posted by mungojelly on December 13, 2000 at 00:46:51 PT:
these numbers are absurd
10,000 emergency room visits for speed and 80,000 for weed? Yeah right. These must be the infamous "mentions," as in "yes doctor, I was just toking on a joint [doctor notes mention of marijuana] when this police officer burst into my home on a bogus warrant and shot me in the arm." 
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