After all this time of living in America I can finally say I've contributed to something!
Turns out America leads the way in tobacco, pot and cocaine consumption! Americans even have a higher usage rate than people who live in countries where pot and other drugs are legal! Who would have thunk it?! Chant with me! "Number 1! Number 1!"
Please, by all means, celebrate your patriotism this weekend by pulling that glass bong out of your closet and take a big ol' rip for Uncle Sam and the good old Red, White and Blue!
According to a new study released June 30 by the World Health Organization, the U.S. leads the world and -- just in time for the Olympics -- takes the gold for the use of tobacco, pot, and cocaine, far outpacing other countries, even the Netherlands, where drug laws are far less draconian. In the U.S., more than 42% in the study admit having used marijuana, and 16% admit having used cocaine -- a cocaine-use rate four times that of New Zealand, which ranked No. 2 out of 17 countries surveyed.
For this first cross-national drug-use study, WHO researchers surveyed more than 54,000 people in the Americas (the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia), Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Ukraine), the Middle East and Africa (Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, and South Africa), Asia (Japan and China), and Oceania (New Zealand), using a standardized methodology. While WHO researchers determined that drug use is more prevalent in wealthier countries, researchers determined that income does not have a "static" effect on drug use. Overall, researchers found the greatest involvement with all drugs by younger people and "remarkable similarity" across the countries surveyed in the "age of onset" of use. Typically, alcohol and tobacco use begins earliest (between 16 and 19 years of age), followed by pot use (around 18), and coke (typically between 21 and 24).
While income and age may be factors determining drug use, it appears that a country's drug policies have little impact on use. "Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones." Indeed. The U.S., with its harsh user penalties, outpaced all other countries on use of pot and coke -- way beyond even the Netherlands, where legal action is not taken for pot possession for personal use. There, just 19.8% of the population has even tried marijuana, and just 1.9% of the population has tried cocaine. Only New Zealand comes close to the U.S. in the number of folks who have ever tried pot, with just under 42%. The U.S. far outpaced other countries in coke use too, with 16.2% of respondents having tried the drug; New Zealand posted a 4.3% lifetime coke-use rate. Colombia, the only coke-producing nation on the list, came in fourth (tied with Mexico) with a 4% lifetime use rate. Only in alcohol use was the U.S. tossed out of the top spot: We took sixth place, while Ukraine took gold with 97% alcohol use. Germany garnered the silver, with 95.3%, while New Zealand, otherwise -- apparently, our drug-use sister country, imagine the cultural exchange possibilities! -- took the bronze, with 94.8%.