Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026
A report released by the Washington D.C. based think tank The Sentencing Project shows that marijuana users are now the primary targets of the U.S. government’s war on drugs, and that since 1990, there has been a dramatic increase in total drug arrests, with a major increase in the number of marijuana arrests.
“The government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars locking our fellow citizens up, yet marijuana can still be found at any high school in America,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “They know they have failed, so they’re trying to use scare tactics to build support for their failed and inhumane policies.”
In addition to major increases in arrests and incarceration rates around marijuana use, the White House is prioritizing the demonization of marijuana in its rhetoric and propaganda. The White House frequently touts an increase in the number of people receiving treatment for “marijuana abuse,” without mentioning that the vast majority of those people have been coerced, offered either a jail cell or treatment.
“It’s a tragedy that 50% of people who want treatment can’t get it because the criminal justice system is filling up much needed spots by coercing marijuana users into treatment,” added Nadelmann. “They’re misrepresenting the facts in order to justify a $40 billion failure–the war on drugs.”
Past distortions of the facts include the idea that marijuana is a “gateway” to harder drugs, and just yesterday, the ONDCP launched a new ad campaign stating that marijuana use is linked to mental health problems, including depression.
“While a small percentage of marijuana smokers may be depressed, I’m sure marijuana prohibition causes much more depression,” added Nadelmann. “You could be incarcerated, lose your job, your financial aid, and your access to public housing for marijuana, something that 50% of Americans between 18 and 50 have smoked.”
Note: Ethan Nadelmann wrote a cover story for the leading conservative magazine National Review (July 2004) calling for an end to Marijuana Prohibition.