New Report: Majority of Americans in Treatment for Marijuana Are Coerced by the Criminal Justice System
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."
- Police make about 700, 000 arrests per year for marijuana offenses --roughly 87% of those are for nothing more than possession of small amounts.
- Almost as many people are arrested for marijuana as for all other illicit drugs combined.
- Enforcing marijuana laws costs an estimated $10-15 billion taxpayer dollars per year in direct costs alone.
- 72% of Americans favor decriminalization--applying a fine, not jail time.
- The federal Higher Education Act prohibits student loans to young people convicted of any drug offense.
- More than 80% of high school students report that it's easy to get marijuana.
- Though it publicly denies that marijuana has medical value, the federal government currently provides marijuana from its own production site in Mississippi to a few court-certified patients.