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More Drug Treatment Would Cut Crime

A White House Report shows drug use is involved in most US crimes, supporting Obama's push for "softer" policy.


Marijuana "guiltiest" drug, followed by cocaine.
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By McCarton Ackerman


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Illegal drug use plays a pivotal role in most US crimes, says an annual drug monitoring report released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; this supports President Obama's position of tackling substance abuse by providing treatment rather than jail for non-violent offenders. The report shows that an average of 71% of men who were arrested in 10 US metropolitan cities last year tested positive for at least one illegal substance. Marijuana was the most common drug, followed by cocaine. The figures ranged from 64% of arrests in Atlanta to 81% in Sacramento, California, but nearly half of the cities experienced an increase in positive tests since 2007. Charlotte, North Carolina, had the highest proportion of drug-related violent crime offenses (29%), while New York City had the highest for drug-related property crimes (32%). "Tackling the drug issue could go a long way in reducing our crime issues," says Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "These data confirm that we must address our drug problem as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue." However, the report also showed that cocaine use has dropped significantly in the last decade and by half in major cities such as New York City and Chicago from 2000-2011, suggesting that drug intervention and pubic education programs may be having a positive impact. The overall rate of illegal drug use in the US has also declined by 30% since 1979.

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