The legal weed industry in the US is estimated to be worth about $9 billion. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, Americans spend way, way more on illegal weed and other illicit substances. How much? Nearly 17 times that amount — or about $150 billion per year, to be precise.

The latest figures come from the RAND Corporation, a multimillion-dollar, war-mongering think-tank that produces policy analyses for the US government. 

According to the study, American spending on weed, heroin, meth, and cocaine ranged from $120 billion to $145 billion from 2006 to 2016. For comparison, Americans spent about $158 billion on booze in 2017, as noted by UPI

The study lumped in licensed (legal) and black market weed sales together. The RAND Corporation found that Americans spent anywhere from $34 billion to $52 billion on illegal and legal weed combined between 2006 and 2016.

Also during the 2006 to 2016 period, heroin use rose by 10 percent. Cocaine use steadily fell from 2006 to 2015, but then use spiked in 2016 for some unexplained reason. Methamphetamine figures were inconclusive since the data is sparse. 

“While there is considerable uncertainty surrounding national methamphetamine estimates, multiple indicators suggest methamphetamine use has exceeded its previous peak around 2005,” said Beau Kilmer, one of the study’s authors and director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, in a press release.

“While there is much more we can do to reduce opioid use disorders and poisonings involving synthetic opioids, we cannot ignore the growing problems associated with methamphetamine use,” Kilmer continued.

Gallery — Vintage Drug Advertisements:

So, how, exactly, did the RAND Corporation gather data on illegal drug sales if those sales are intentionally done off-the-books? The think-tank’s researchers largely relied on data from ADAM, the federal Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring database, which not only takes illicit drug transaction information from suspects, it also collects data from the suspects’ urine tests to confirm they were actually on the drugs they got busted for.

Since ADAM stopped collecting data on meth dealers and users around 2003, the system did not have reliable current data for the drug. Why the feds haven’t collected this data despite a national meth epidemic in 2005 is anyone’s guess, but it does show how fucking incompetent the goverment is when it comes to the War on Drugs.

The RAND Corporation’s study was supported by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, a prohibitionist agency known for citing bullshit, fabricated studies and pushing dead-end propaganda campaigns regarding drug use. So, take these numbers with a few grains of bath salts.

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