Control over, and prevention of, the distribution and usage of narcotic drugs has been a major priority of the federal government and the various state governments since the early part of the twentieth century. Notwithstanding these efforts, statistics on the use of narcotics in the United States remain startling. According to statistics from the U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, between 10,000 and 24,000 metric tons of marijuana were available on American streets. This is in addition to large quantities of other forms of narcotics, including: 260–270 metric tons of cocaine, 110–140 metric tons of methamphetamine, and 13–18 metric tons of heroin.
According to the National Household Drug Survey on Drug Abuse, conducted by the SUB-STANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, 55.6 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 25 said that they had used illicit drugs. This compares to 53.3 percent of respondents between the ages of 26 and 34, and 28.4 percent of respondents between the ages of 12 and 17. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's 2002 Monitoring the Future Study found that 53 percent of high-school seniors claimed to have used narcotics, including 41 percent who said that they had used drugs in the past year, and 25.4 percent who said that they had used drugs in the past month.
The efforts of law enforcement officers have had some effect on the use and transfer of narcotics in the past, although these efforts have been costly. In 2001, federal agents seized approximately 1,215 metric tons of marijuana, 106 metric tons of cocaine, 3.6 metric tons of methamphetamine, and 2.5 metric tons of heroin. The costs to society in enforcing narcotics laws have continued to increase. In 1992, the total estimated costs to society of narcotics use was $102 billion. By 2000, this number had grown to $160 billion, including almost $15 billion in HEALTH CARE costs.
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