National

Sep 16, 2010 8:53 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Illegal drug use on rise

Illegal drug use is at the highest level in nearly a decade.

The high rate last year was fueled by a sharp increase in marijuana use and a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse.

The government report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found marijuana use rose by 8 percent. It remains the most commonly used drug.

The director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy says he is not surprised because of what he calls "eroding attitudes" about the perception of harm from illegal drugs and the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana.

Gil Kerlikowske says he thinks all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to young people.

Mike Meno, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, says the survey is more proof the government's war on marijuana has failed in spite of decades of enforcement efforts and arrests.

Cocaine abuse continues to decline.

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