Well this is a surprise: Vermont is the state with the highest rate of “illicit” drug use in the country, according to newly released figures. 15% of Vermont’s residents say they've used within the past month, and this compares to 4.2% in Utah where drug use is the lowest, according to the 2010-2011 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Vermont ranked high in almost every category of drug use, from marijuana to cocaine. "You have everything from the colder climate, which tends to be a reason some people give, to more liberal attitudes, to higher income levels, to people having more access, but I don't think anyone knows for sure," Barbara Cimaglio, the Vermont Department of Health's deputy commissioner, told Business Insider.
Cimaglio pointed out that marijuana use in the state is what really pushes up the stats. Marijuana use in Vermont is higher than anywhere else in the country, with about 13% of people saying they've used it in the past month. "I think what drives this up tends to be the higher use of marijuana, and if you look at the states [with high illicit drug use], they tend to be the states that have decriminalized or have more favorable attitudes toward use of marijuana," Cimaglio added.
Many consider marijuana to have a lower social cost and health impact than “harder” illegal drugs (and even alcohol), so it seems misleading to single out Vermont for its drug use if it’s marijuana that’s driving up the figures.
But Cimaglio also notes an “uptick” in heroin use in the state, and Business Insider also highlights that prescription drug is on the rise in the state, as it has around the country.
The state’s geographical position is also a big factor: "I think Vermont is really in sort of a perfect storm because we're on that highway between Montreal, Boston, New York, and also going to Philadelphia," Cimaglio said, adding that it has become a convenient stop-off for trafficking, especially as higher prices can be charged.