In the Garden State, 9.89% of juvenile arrests in 2017 were related to drugs.

That's the highest rate in the country, and is at least double the rate recorded in more than 25 states.

Using FBI data, Texas-based Greenhouse Treatment Center counted 3,535 drug-related juvenile arrests in New Jersey — 17.16 such arrests per 10,000 minors.

"It is clear that illegal drug use is a major problem throughout the country in both juveniles and adults and the effects of these drugs negatively impact millions of lives every single day," the report said.

juvenile drug arrests

Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said New Jersey's location — between major metropolitan areas — may play a role in the state's nation-leading statistic. The purity of certain drugs, such as heroin, is a factor as well, he said.

The Garden State's been no stranger to the opioid epidemic gripping much of the nation. More than 3,100 deaths were caused by a drug overdose in 2018 throughout New Jersey, according to the state Attorney General's Office. The reports do not separate the deaths by age of victim.

"I think there's no question that we should be looking at this as an opportunity," Valente said of the Greenhouse Treatment findings. "An opportunity to be able to address the issue of drug use among our young people, and also an opportunity to be able to provide young people that are involved in drug experimentation and drug usage, with treatment options, with help, with support services."

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