Anti-Marijuana

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Contrary to the beliefs of those who advocate the legalization of marijuana, the current balanced, restrictive, and bipartisan drug policies of the United States are working reasonably well and they have contributed to reductions in the rate of marijuana use in our nation. The rate of current, past 30-day use of marijuana by Americans aged 12 and older in 1979 was 13.2 percent. In 2008 that figure stood at 6.1 percent. This 54-percent reduction in marijuana use over that 29-year period is a major public health triumph, not a failure. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the U.S. and around the world. Those who support its legalization, for medical or for general use, fail to recognize that the greatest costs of marijuana are not related to its prohibition; they are the costs resulting from marijuana use itself. There is a common misconception that the principle costs of marijuana use are those related to the criminal justice system. This is a false premise. Caulkins & Sevigny (2005) found that the percentage of people in prison for marijuana use is less than one half of one percent (0.1-0.2 percent). An encounter with the criminal justice system through apprehension for a drug-related crime frequently can benefit the offender because the criminal justice system is often a path to treatment. More than a third, 37 percent, of treatment admissions reported in the Treatment Episode Data Set, TEDS, collected from state-funded programs were referred through the criminal justice system. Marijuana was an identified drug of abuse for 57 percent of the individuals referred to treatment from the criminal justice system. The future of drug policy is not a choice between using the criminal justice system or treatment. The more appropriate goal is to get these two systems to work together more effectively to improve both public safety and public health. In the discussion of legalizing marijuana, a useful analogy can be made to gambling. MacCoun & Reuter...
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