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U.S. drug use in decline, drug chief says

May 9, 2012 at 5:05 PM

WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- The nation's drug policy chief told an international commission meeting in Washington he's optimistic illegal drug use in the United States can be reduced.

In a statement to the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, R. Gil Kerlikowske, U.S. National Drug Control Policy director, pointed out that many people ask him if America will ever reduce its demand for drugs.

"I tell them yes. American drug use has already declined by one-third since its peak in the 1970s," he said.

He said cocaine use in the United States has declined by 40 percent and methamphetamine use is down 50 percent in the past five years. He credited the current government policy of making "a clear distinction between criminals who are driven by an underlying substance-use disorder and hardened, professional criminals."

"To break the cycle of drug use and crime, it is our policy that the first group be directed unto supervised treatment," he said.

Kerlikowske said 120,000 people in the United States are annually diverted into treatment, instead of incarceration.

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