Mike Meno, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, told the Associated Press the survey is further proof that the government's war on marijuana is failing despite years of enforcement efforts and arrests.
"It's time we stop this charade and implement sensible laws that would tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do more harmful -- but legal -- drugs like alcohol and tobacco," Meno told the AP.
Rates of tobacco and alcohol use among teens from 2008 to 2009 remained about the same, the researchers noted.
Among young adults 18- to 25-years-old, illegal drug use rose from 19.6 percent in 2008 to 21.2 percent in 2009, again mostly driven by increased marijuana use, the report showed.
Some encouraging signs emerged, however.
Tobacco use among those aged 12 and up dropped to a historic low of 23.4 percent, and cocaine use among those aged 12 and up has dropped 30 percent since 2006, the researchers found.
The report also found a huge disparity between the number of people who need substance abuse treatment (23.5 million) and the number of those who get it (2.6 million).
The recession may be driving up drug use, said one expert.
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that "while a rise in recreational drug use over the past couple of years is concerning, it is not surprising."
These trends correspond with the most severe economic downturn in generations, Katz said. "Drug use may rep
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