Drug Use Hits 8-Year High Marijuana, meth, ecstasy use up, cocaine down By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Sep 16, 2010 1:19 AM CDT 24 comments Comments Marijuana use rose 8% between 2008 and 2009, according to a government report. (Getty Images) (Newser) – Illegal drug abuse in America has soared to its highest rate in almost a decade, according to a government report which finds marijuana, methamphetamine, and ecstasy use surging, but cocaine declining. Some 21.8 million Americans used illegal drugs last year, a 9% increase from the year before and the highest number since the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration began its nationwide surveys in 2002. Government drug czar Gil Kerlikowske says the rise in illegal drug use is disappointing, and he blames "mixed messages" on marijuana being given to young people. A spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, meanwhile, says the numbers show that the government's "war on marijuana has failed." 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," he tells AP.