Drug Policy Alliance Challenges Government

Press Release March 3, 2005
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646)335-5384

New York – A new study released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) claims the number of people admitted to treatment for marijuana use nearly tripled from 1992 – 2002. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the report is misleading because the majority of marijuana users are in treatment as an alternative to going to jail, losing their jobs or being expelled from school – not because they are seeking treatment voluntarily.** The number of marijuana arrests more than doubled from 1992 – 2002, which significantly contributed to the increase of marijuana users forced into treatment.

“The government pretends that more people are in treatment because they’re addicted to marijuana, but in reality many people are choosing treatment over a jail cell,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 54% of those in treatment for marijuana in 1999 were forced there by the criminal justice system. Another ONDCP report shows that at least 100,000 people seeking drug treatment can’t get it.

“It’s a tragedy when half the people who want treatment can’t get it because the criminal justice system is filling up much needed spots by coercing people into treatment,” said Nadelmann.

** Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2003 Treatment Episode Data Set: 1992-2001, National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, DASIS Series: S-20 (Maryland U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003) : 122.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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