United Kingdom

Do Cocaine Trends Show U.S. Policies Are Better Than Europe's?


In a letter to The New York Times, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske claims that "since 2007, cocaine use has decreased sharply in the United States, while in Europe it has risen." But the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows past-year cocaine use declining only slightly between 2007 and 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available), from 2.3 percent to 2.1 percent. Similarly, past-month cocaine use fell from 0.8 percent to 0.7 percent. Neither change was statistically signficant, let alone "sharp." The Monitoring the Future Study does show statistically signficant drops in cocaine use among high school seniors between 2007 and 2009: Past-year use (PDF) fell from 5.2 percent to 3.4 percent, while past-month use (PDF) fell from 2 percent to 1.3 percent.

In addition to exaggerating the downward trend in the U.S., which is statistically significant only among teenagers, Kerlikowske misleadingly implies that the U.S. approach to drugs is demonstrably superior to Europe's. First, there is a wide variety of European approaches, ranging from Swedish-style strictness to Portugese decriminalization. Second, the contrast in cocaine trends is not as clear as Kerlikowske suggests: According to data collected by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine use rose in some European countries between 2007 and 2008 while falling in others. Third, trends in use are not necessarily related to drug policy. Does the U.K.'s sharp decline in cocaine use between 2007 and 2008 show the government suddenly did something right after years of rising cocaine consumption, or are other forces at work? For what it's worth, cocaine use in the United States remains almost twice as high as the European average, although American policies are generally stricter. Past-year use in both Portugal and the Netherlands (which is also known for its relatively tolerant drug policies) is less than one-third the U.S. rate.


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  1. Is the Euro-Blow all stepped on with hog wormer too?

    I never liked the shit but I’m even less likely to take it cut with the hog dewormer stuff.

  2. Perhaps this guy ought to explain why I should care how many people are using cocaine. He acts like limiting cocaine use is some kind of self evident social good. Bullshit.

    1. Before the Act was passed, on February 8, 1914 The New York Times published an article entitled “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ Are New Southern Menace:Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower-Class Blacks” by Edward Huntington Williams which reported that Southern sheriffs had increased the caliber of their weapons from .32 to .38 to bring down Negroes under the effect of cocaine.

      I think the DeKalb County PD is dropping the .40S&W and moving to .45ACP.

      1. I have always carried heavy caliber weapons. So I have never worried too much about the Negro cocaine menace.

        1. At the beginning of the 20th century, cocaine began to be linked to crime. In 1900, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial stating, “Negroes in the South are reported as being addicted to a new form of vice ? that of ‘cocaine sniffing’ or the ‘coke habit.'” Some newspapers later claimed cocaine use caused blacks to rape white women and was improving their pistol marksmanship.

          “The Science is settled”

          1. and was improving their pistol marksmanship.

            Note to self….

            1. They should give cocaine to our boys in Afghanistan!

      2. …which reported that Southern sheriffs had increased the caliber of their weapons from .32 to .38 to bring down Negroes under the effect of cocaine.

        They carried .32 calibers? That’s a step up from a .25, but I’d rather have a .22 Magnum than a .32.

        Also, moving from .40 S&W to .45 ACP is a no-brainer, even if you don’t have to deal with Negroes on Cocaine.

        1. The 10mm continues to be unfairly ignored.

          1. It’s over-powered, like the .40 S&W. Get through two magazines, and the webbing of your hand feels like you’ve been working with a jackhammer all day. Maybe if you handload, you can make a decent round out of it.

            A nice 1911 .45, however, is a gun you can shoot all day.

            1. I carry a .32, and it may be something of a pipsqueak round, but I wouldn’t want to be shot with it. Fuck, I wouldn’t want to be shot by a .22 short. It was enough to kill Bobby Kennedy, after all.

              1. Exactly. If whomever you are shooting at is big enough and bad enough to care that you shot him, you probably need to go the other way. I don’t want to be shot with anything.

              2. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that no other round has killed more people than the .22.

                And a .32 isn’t a joke. However, I don’t know whether I’d take a .25 as a gift. I suppose I would, so I could sell it for ammo for a real gun. Or maybe get a .22 mag Derringer.

                I remember a good ol’ boy telling me a joke about the .25. He said “my pa told me, don’t ever shoot no one with a .25. Because if you do, you might hit him. And if you hit him, he might find out. And if he does, he’s gonna be pissed.”

                1. If you want a laugh, go to any gun forum discussion about caliber size and watch the morons come out of the woodwork to tell you how the smaller calibers are useless. Then ask them all which of them has actually ever shot anyone or been shot themselves, and listen to the crickets chirp.

                  1. Epi, do you ever troll ar15.com? Lulz abound.

                    1. I can barely take the pistol morons; rifle morons would be too much for me to handle. Did you watch Top Shot on the History Channel, by the way? It was actually really cool.

                    2. I meant to watch it, but I haven’t yet. I’ll steal it from the internet and watch it some weekend.

                  2. how the smaller calibers are useless

                    A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .45.

                    1. I wouldn’t want to be standing in front of either when they go off.

                2. .25 ACP is somewhat more reliable than a .22 RF.

                3. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that no other round has killed more people than the .22.

                  The issue as I understand is that a .22 will kill someone just as a dead as a .40, but will take 5 days to do it. So in a self defense discussion, where a .22 isn’t as likely to bring someone down as a .40, it’s a true statement to say smaller calibers aren’t as effective.

            2. I carry a Makarov. 9×18 isn’t terribly powerful, but the round has certainly killed many thousands of people. I’ll get a .45 or possibly 10mm when I have the money, but for now I’m comfortable with my little pussy caliber.

              1. My co-worker is going to buy the new S&W Bodyguard .380 (it has a safety, slide release, etc. that guns like the LCP don’t have), and after I try it I will probably buy one too. They’re already waiting list for purchase, though.

            3. I own several .40s, and I attended frontsight with one. I fired about 1000 rounds over four days, and it was no big deal. Never fired a 10mm, but I hear they have quite a kick.

              1. wayne – Maybe I’m just a wuss, or maybe it’s the fact that I have a crappy S&W Sigma instead of a heavier gun.

                In any event, I’ll probably wind up selling it soon.

                1. I have a glock model 22; I love it. The recoil is about the same as my glock 9mm.

                  1. wayne – I have a Glock 23. I also don’t have an issue with it banging up my hands.

                2. A place to stick it.

          2. Sexist
            The 10mm was too much cartridge for law enforcement ladies.

        2. Negroes on Cocaine? What is this – 1962?

    2. Agree.

  3. Cocaine is a luxury. We’ve been in an economic downturn since 2007.

    I bet yacht sales are down too.

    1. Yeah. In fact, I remember reading once that cocaine exports to Europe increased roughly in line with the rise of the Euro compared to the dollar. It’s about the money.

    2. You can no longer use your home equity as an ATM to pay your drug dealer.

      1. The hell I can’t.

  4. Honestly, I wonder if Levamisole isn’t a DEA deep-cover op. Maybe they learned from the paraquat controversy to keep secret when adding murderous chemicals to drugs.

    1. Jimmy Carter grossly exaggerated the threat of paraquat (that he ordered applied to marijuana) in an attempt to suppress cannabis use. There’s good reason he is “History’s Greatest Monster”.

      1. There’s good reason he is “History’s Greatest Monster”.

        Yeah that’s not hyperbolic or anything.

        1. It’s a Simpsons quote.

          1. Ugh, then I’m off to flagellate myself. My bad. Really — unforgivable.

            Along the Groening line, anyone else been watching the new season of Futurama? I’ve been really impressed so far; a huge step up from the four movies.

  5. John – while he’s at it, he can explain why it’s any of anyone’s business whether or not adults use cocaine.

    SF – That’s right – there was the story a day or two ago about Wall Street guys switching to pot & Oxy. (Personally, I think Oxy would be an upgrade).

    1. Wall Street guys switching to pot & Oxy. (Personally, I think Oxy would be an upgrade)

      Somehow i don’t see that mixing well with their adrenaline addiction.

  6. “BEIJING (AFP) ? Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days and highlights China’s growing road congestion woes.

    The Beijing-Tibet expressway slowed to a crawl on August 14 due to a spike in traffic by cargo-bearing heavy trucks heading to the capital, and compounded by road maintenance work that began five days later, the Global Times said.”


    Where is Thomas Friedman on this one?

    1. Is that the highway Jackie Gleason (who, portraying a bus driver, had a professional interest) was reading about their bldg. from Mongolia to Tibet? “Says it’ll cut the travel time by…” and we never found out the rest.

  7. Not mentioned in this story is the incarceration rate. Because everyone knows the number of people you send to jail is the best way to measure if your drug policy is working.

  8. What? You don’t think the recession hit us? Lol, ttyl

    1. Obviously fake. High schoolers don’t use punctuation, especially while high.

  9. However, coca tea use among Hit&Run; regulars is up ?%.

    1. I just had some.

      1. Just fired up the kettle.

    2. If you have the leaves, you can also try chewing them with a Tums, which is essentially what the South American Indians do. It’ll help you avoid altitude sickness in the mountains near Cleveland.

      1. I’ve chewed the leaves, but never with chalk. Does that help you absorb the cocaine more efficiently?

        1. Yes. Calcium carbonate helps release the alkaloids from the leaves.

          1. I’ve had coca tea a couple times, and was thinking of buying some. Any recommendations for specific brands/sources?

            1. I got Delisse brand. I’d say look for any brand that’s sold in South America. I.e., you want to avoid brands marked “export”, as they might be decocainized. And that would be a disaster.

              1. Yeah that’s exactly what I was hoping to avoid, thanks for the tip.

            2. Never tried coca tea to be honest, but I love tea so maybe I’ll try some.
              Reverse Number

  10. “This is great and all, but I was really hoping for more of like a, you know, anything goes, crazy European sex party kind of a thing.”

  11. No one can afford blow in this economy.

    Oh, and Gil Kerlikowske: Not just Seattle’s problem, anymore.

  12. If US policy isn’t helping why not relax it? It won’t get you high but you can try pure maple syrup.

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