The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced the release of a new study regarding increases in law enforcement seizures of methamphetamine and marijuana during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drug seizure data from March 2019 through September 2020 were analyzed in five key U.S. regions and researchers found that incidences of marijuana and methamphetamine seizures decreased at the beginning of the pandemic. However, those rates began to rise, and at their peak in August 2020, confiscations exceeded pre-COVID-19 seizure rates. In comparison, researchers found no significant changes in seizures of fentanyl, cocaine, or heroin since the onset of the pandemic. As noted in the announcement, it remains unknown if the high seizure rates in August of 2020 represent greater drug availability or whether law enforcement officials were “catching up” regarding previous months of delayed seizures.
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