Melissa Milam at (212) 613-8037 or Bill Piper at (202) 216-0035
The drug czar consistently touts the increasing number of marijuana users in drug treatment to argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug which has increased in potency. Recent data proves otherwise. According to a new report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 58% of all marijuana treatment admissions in 2002 were the result of referrals from the criminal justice system. This number increased ten percentage points from 48% in 1992.
A May 2005 report by The Sentencing Project found that marijuana arrests increased by 113% during the same ten year period. According to that report, marijuana arrests currently account for nearly half (45%) of the 1.5 million drug arrests annually.
“These reports offer concrete evidence that it’s not marijuana itself that’s responsible for escalating treatment rates: It’s the government’s misguided war on drugs,” said Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s a tragedy that 50% of people who want treatment can’t get it because the criminal justice system is filling up life-saving spots by coercing marijuana users into treatment.”