Drug-related arrests in South Carolina increased nearly 47 percent over the past decade – indicating drug use also is on the rise – says a state report quoted by The State newspaper in Columbia. Marijuana accounted for almost two-thirds of those arrests, with cocaine involved in 29 percent. Despite the surge, South Carolina still trails the national average in abuse of cocaine, marijuana and pain relievers.
The sheer volume of drug arrests was notable, said state statistician Rob McManus. He acknowledged that stepped-up enforcement of drug laws could be “certainly a possibility” to explain the increase in arrests shown in the study. The study was the department's first attempt to gauge drug use over a 10-year-period. The study said drug-related discharges from the state's hospital emergency rooms increased 67 percent from 1996 to 2006. Young adults 17 to 24 have the highest drug arrest rate at 44 percent. Among inmates admitted to state prisons with drug offenses from 2001 to 2007, about 78 percent were black, while some 21 percent were white.