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Marijuana Tops the List as the Most Popular Illegal Drug Worldwide

Update Date: Aug 30, 2013 12:40 PM EDT

Even though marijuana is currently going through new legislation in the United States with legalizations in some of the states, this product is still illegal in the majority of the world. Despite being illegal, a lot of people end up getting their hands on this product. Now, in the first-ever survey conducted on a global status, researchers are reporting that marijuana is the most popular illegal drug of choice.

For this study, the scientists were interested in people's illicit drug use on a global scale. The researchers looked at all kinds of drug abuse ranging from cocaine to painkillers. Based from the data, the researchers uncovered very interesting statistics on people's drug use. They found that even though cannabis is the most popular illegal drug of choice, more people die from being addicted to painkillers than any other drugs. Painkillers include Vicodin, Oxycontin and codeine, which are prescribed by doctors. In 2010, there was an estimated 78,000 deaths and half of those deaths could be attributed to painkiller addictions.

Aside from painkillers and marijuana, the researchers found the group that abuses drugs the most was men in their 20s. The countries that have the highest rates of drug abuse are the United States, Britain, Russia and Australia. The researchers also found that people tend to use illegal drugs that are manufactured near their homes. For example, people in North America tend to use cocaine whereas people in Asia and Australia use amphetamines and opioids. The researchers pointed out that there was not enough data to include ecstasy and hallucinogens.

"Even if it is not very solid data, we can say definitely that there are drug problems in most parts of the world," said the study's senior author, Theo Vos according to CBS News. Vos is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"A decriminalized drug policy could potentially transform the public health approach to drug use," said Vikram Patel from the Center for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine according to the Washington Post. "The enormous savings in the criminal justice system could be used to fund addiction treatment programs."

The researchers also found that countries that had harsher drug laws had worse death rates related to drug abuse. This data could potentially inform countries of better programs to adopt in order to curb drug abuse. The study was published in The Lancet

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