Marijuana use in America is on the increase, according to a recent survey sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. According to sources, the survey collected data from interviews with 67,000 individuals over the age of 12 who were randomly selected.

Nearly one in 10 Americans reported on the survey that they had regularly used an illegal drug recreationally, whether marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription drugs. Out of the various drugs marijuana had the most users; 17.4 million reported they used the substance regularly. The survey showed that marijuana use increased 5.8 percent between 2007 and 2010.

Methamphetamines and cocaine use, though, has decreased, according to the survey. Methamphetamine use decreased from 731,000 to 353,000 between 2006 and 2010. Cocaine use decreased from 2.4 million to 1.5 million between 2006 and 2010.

Overall drug use has increased particularly among college students, and is speculated to be largely influenced by the increase in marijuana use. Marijuana is often thought of as a “gateway” drug.

According to Gil Kerlikowske of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the increase use of marijuana has a lot to do with the number of states that have approved its use for medicinal purposes. At present, 16 states have approved medical marijuana. States with the highest rate of teen marijuana use include New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In general, the survey showed that drug use has decreased, but the increase of marijuana use has some experts worried about the potential risks.

Source: USA Today, “National drug survey shows big drop in methamphetamine use,” Donna Leinwand Leger, Sep 9, 2011.