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WHO Says That Americans Are the World's Biggest Drug Users

posted 12:25 PM EST, Wed July 02, 2008
WHO Says That Americans Are the World's Biggest Drug Users © Photo: Lenny Montana

In a new report, the WHO has released statistics that show how little effect punitive drug laws seem to have on drug experimentation rates.

Despite some very harsh and punitive drug laws, Americans are the world's biggest drug experimenters.

A new study by the World Health Organization indicates that the severity of the drug laws have little influence over experimentation rates, and rather it is the affluence of the country that seems most determining of drug use rates.

In the US, a world leading 16% have at some point tried cocaine. The second most prevalent rate of use is seen in New Zealand, where just over 4% have tried the drug.

Again leading the world, 42% of Americans have tried marijuana, followed again by NZ at 41%. The Netherlands, with its famously decriminalized marijuana regulations had a far lower experimentation rate.

74% of Americans have smoked tobacco – another world leading rate. Lebanon, at number 2, saw 61% having ever smoked.

Dr. Louisa Degenhardt, a spokesperson for the team explained their findings as, "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."

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