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Drop in U.S. Cocaine Use Due to Waning Popularity, New Colombian Drug Strategies

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The dramatic decrease in cocaine use in America is due to a number of factors, ranging from changing trends to new drug control strategies implemented by Colombia, according to NPR.

The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the number of Americans ages 12 or older who are current users of cocaine has dropped by 44 percent since 2006.

One reason cocaine’s popularity has declined is it simply went out of fashion, according to Peter Reuter, a professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, who researches drug problems. “The drug went out of vogue a long time ago,” he told NPR. “Lots of people experiment with it, but very few of the people that experiment with it in the last 20 years have gone on to become regular users of it.”

Colombia, a major cocaine producer, implemented new strategies to reduce cocaine production after 2008. In 2000, the country grew 74 percent of the world’s coca leaves. Colombia spent billions of dollars to fight drug cartels and coca crops. Starting in 2008, the country’s new defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, began emphasizing drug seizures, and targeting facilities that manufactured cocaine.

The supply of cocaine dropped, the price of the drug in the United States rose, and consumption likely decreased as a result, says Daniel Mejia, Director of the Research Center on Drugs and Security at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced there has been a 41 percent decrease in worldwide cocaine production since 2001, and a 10 percent drop from the previous year. ONDCP says a U.S.-Columbian partnership has contributed to the drop in worldwide cocaine production. Interceptions by the Coast Guard and Defense Department along drug trafficking routes have also led to a decrease in the amount of cocaine entering the United States.

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