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Marijuana Use By The Numbers

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 10, 2009

    FYI: Feel free to also comment on this commentary (and digg it) at the Huffington Post here and at Alternet.org here.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has once again released their annual survey on “drug use and health” — you know, the one where representatives of the federal government go door-to-door and ask Americans if they are presently breaking state and federal law by using illicit drugs. The same survey where respondents have historically under reported their usage of alcohol and tobacco — these two legal substances — by as much as 30 to 50 percent, and arguably under report their use of illicit substances by an even greater margin. The same survey that — despite these inherent limitations — “is the primary source of statistical information on the use of illegal drugs by the U.S. population.” Yeah, that one.

    So what does the government’s latest round of ‘statistical (though highly questionable) information’ tell us? Nothing we didn’t already know.

    Despite 70+ years of criminal prohibition, marijuana still remains widely popular among Americans, with over 102 million Americans (41 percent of the U.S. population) having used it during their lifetimes, 26 million (10 percent) having used it in the past year, and over 15 million (6 percent) admitting that they use it regularly. (By contrast, fewer than 15 percent of adults have ever tried cocaine, the second most ‘popular’ illicit drug, and fewer than 2 percent have ever tried heroin — so much for that supposed ‘gateway effect.’) Predictably, all of the 2008 marijuana use figures are higher than those that were reported for the previous year — great work John Walters!

    Equally predictably, the government’s long-standing prohibition and anti-pot ‘scare’ campaigns have done little, if anything, to dissuade young people from trying it. According to the survey, 15 percent of those age 14 to 15 have tried pot (including 12 percent in the past year), as have 31 percent of those age 16 to 17 (a quarter of which have done so in the past year) — percentages that make marijuana virtually as popular as alcohol among these age groups. By age 20, 45 percent of adolescents have tried pot, and nearly a third of those age 18 to 20 have done so in the past year. And by age 25, 54 percent of the population has admittedly used marijuana.

    Question: Does anyone still believe that marijuana prohibition is working — or that all of these people deserve to be behind bars?

    For too long, advocates of prohibition have framed their arguments on the false assumption that the continued enforcement of said laws “protects our children.” As the numbers above illustrate, this premise is nonsense. In fact, just the opposite is true.

    The government’s war on cannabis and cannabis consumers endangers the health and safety of our children. It enables young people to have unregulated access to marijuana — easier access than they presently have to alcohol. It enables young people to interact and befriend pushers of other illegal, more dangerous drugs. It compels young people to dismiss the educational messages they receive pertaining to the potential health risks posed by the use of “hard drugs” and prescription pharmaceuticals, because kids say, “If they lied to me about pot, why wouldn’t they be lying to me about everything else, too?”

    Most importantly, the criminal laws are far more likely to result in having our children arrested, placed behind bars, and stigmatized with a lifelong criminal record than they are likely to in any way discourage them to try pot.

    In short, what the results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health is simple and consistent; in fact, we say it all the time: Remember prohibition? It still doesn’t work!

    73 Responses to “Marijuana Use By The Numbers”

    1. you tell him Russ!!!! I try to live by this statement: talk about what you know and know what you’re talking about…..

    2. ROBERT CARR says:

      keep fighting the good war everybody

    3. bud says:

      most politians are burying there proverbial head in the sand. This IS an important issue. Our country/most states know proibition is not working, but mainstream stick in the mud ass people are not willing or ready to deal with this NOW! PEOPLE keep trying to educate society on the fact that we’re gonna smoke dope… just like buying a sixpack or a bottle of liqour (crown or beam are my favorites) stay true and honest to what is best.

    4. WAMarley says:

      Revenue from legalization of marijuana alone would be enough to re-build the entire interstate highway system ! Would create and or save roughly fifty BILLION DOLLARS. The excise and sales tax alone would generate 15~17 Billion alone, not to mention saving 18~20 Billion dollars in law enforcement savings. Jobs generated by the wh ole business is a quarter of a million. Ancillary items could generate fifteen billion dollars on its on.
      The National Commission on Drug Abuse recommended over 20 years ago for decriminalization !

      What are we waiting for ?

    5. Noah Anderson says:

      This was an entertaining article and the facts alone were shocking and representative of the ignorance we are dealing with. That being said, I think that a good deal of the article was written in a negative tone, often mocking those in favor of prohibition. While this may be good at canonizing people, it does not help open positive communications up with those against reformation.

    6. steveyboy says:

      Prohabition = Cruel & unusual punishment ! Remember this is WAR & WE must act accordingly ! We did not start this war ,but we will end it ! Lay down your arms uncle Sam , & we may not kill you on the battlefield !

    7. WAMarley says:

      If one has an open mind, then the article was very balanced. May I suggest that if one has a negative attitude going in, then one will probably view the article as negative. These are general attitudes liken to fringe element, three standard deviations from the mean fringe element, Evangelicals & The Religious Reich.

    8. Stompedonmyrights says:

      THE CRIMINAL CHARGE: Mr. Harry J. Anslinger, an agent for the Federal Government, did willfully and wantonly committed Fraud and Constructive Fraud, of which Mr. Anslinger perpetrated upon the United States people as a whole and their United States Congress for the sole purpose “ to impair or injure public interest” in the cannabis plant as a traditional medicine or as a valuable agricultural crop.

      Fraud: as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, “An intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another in reliance upon it to part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right; a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury.”

      Constructive Fraud: as defined by Bovier’s Law Dictionary – 1856 Edition which states, “Constructive fraud: A contract or act, which, not originating in evil design and contrivance to perpetuate a positive fraud or injury upon other persons, yet, by its necessary tendency to deceive or mislead them, or to violate a public or private confidence, or to impair or injure public interest, is deemed equally reprehensible with positive fraud, and therefore is prohibited by law, … ”

      Harrison Narcotics Act – 63rd US Congress 1914
      Marihuana Tax Act – 75th US Congress April 14, 1937, signed August 2, 1937
      The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act – 91st US Congress October 27, 1970

      The Legislative Branch of the United States, sitting past & present, lacked / lacks the constitutional privilege or right granted to Congress by the United States Constitution in which to abrogate the natural inalienable rights secured by the people unless the U.S. Legislative branch has reviewed valid evidence, held fair, impartial, and publicly transparent hearings which showed, or shows, that our nation’s health and or welfare would be, or is, negatively effected should the United States peoples’ continue to execute their natural inalienable right of access to the cannabis plant can it be outlawed. Absent of these reasonable conditions Congress can not, may not use it’s privilege or right of abrogation of Constitutional Rights secured by the people.

      It is only upon the reasonable presentation of scientific evidence which presents a valid social claim, and or an individual claim of harm that negatively impacts upon the whole, or part of, the Nation’s people does Congress have the responsibility to secure the nation’s health and welfare by use of it’s congressional privilege or right of abrogations by due process to secure said health and welfare of the Nation. But no U.S. Legislative body, past or present, has the congressional privilege or right to abrogate the natural inalienable rights secured in the United States people based on distortions, fanciful conjecture, and intentionally misleading medical and legal information. No where in the people’s founding contact adopted by the people and sworn to by this elected government does it allow deception, criminal and civil fraud, intentional misinformation, purposely tainted testimony, and the denial of any expert testimonies as bases for granting any elected and sworn U.S. Legislative body present or past with the misuse of it’s privilege or right of abrogation which allows the outlawing of the inalienable rights of the peoples’ of these United States without proper due process of law.

      Therefore the foundation laid in Congress to abrogate the natural inalienable rights of the people lacked any real evident that the cannabis plant is or was, ever a safety issue which negatively impacted the health and welfare of the American Society, in part or as a whole. Furthermore, the U.S. Congress did not, can not, and still does not have the privilege or right granted in the United States Constitution to write any such legislation that would abrogate the American people from their natural inalienable rights to use the cannabis planet for reason of traditional medicine, or as a traditional food supplement, as an alternative fuel source, for the making of clothing, used as a replacement for wood, used in the making of traditional paper, and or for the peoples’ ancient spiritual, religious, or cultural practices of which is clearly protected for all time sake by our founding fathers’ constitutional preamble and the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution.

      Hence, the United States Legislative actions known as the Harrison Narcotics Act of the 63rd legislative session, the Marihuana Tax Act of the 75th legislative session, and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of the 91st legislative session and all those sub-action therein, which abrogate the natural inalienable rights of the people to have unfettered access to the cannabis plant is built upon a fraudulent act and therefore unconstitutional because these legislative foundations are based on fanciful propaganda which lacks any real legal scientific evident that demonstrates any negative impact on society by the use of the cannabis plant. The three legislative action listed above do adversely effect the safety and welfare of the America. These fraudulent acts of congress continue to harm the nation and drain the people of their valuable resources. Most importantly these acts have eroded the relationship between all three branches of government and the people they are suppose to represent.

      Our Federal Congresses in the above named sessions have acted upon the U.S. constitutional provision involving the American peoples’ natural inalienable rights and have unlawfully abrogated those natural unalienable given rights of the United States people based solely on questionable congressional witness testimonies, a bombardment of fraudulent media presentations, and grossly misquoted medical and legal data, of which is still pervasive today in the minds of the American people. There is however an overwhelming, and ever growing mound of world-wide scientific data that demonstrate to the contrary the fraudulent education material perpetrated upon our society as well as the 63rd, 75th, and 91st United States Congresses. Our U.S. Congress therefore lacked then and still lacks now it’s constitutional privilege or right to abrogate the cannabis plant from the American people. All legislation, status, and laws written and enacted from these fraudulent act of intentional misguided legislation should be ruled by the Supreme Court in the land as null and void because they are repugnant to the foundation of the United States Constitution.

      “ The Constitution is a written instrument, as such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.” South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905)

      “To disregard such a deliberate choice of words and their natural meaning, would be a departure from the first principle of constitutional interpretation.” “Every word must have its due force and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that, no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added.” Chief Justice Taney in Holmes v. Jennison, 14 U.S. 540, 570-1

      “ Every word appears to have been weighted with the utmost deliberation and its effect to have been fully understood.” Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583 (1938)

      “All laws which are repugnant to the constitution are null and void.” Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 174, 176 (1803)

      “If the legislator clearly misinterprets a constitutional provision, the frequent repetition of the wrong will not create a right.” Amos v. Mosley, 74 Fla. 555; 77 So. 619. (Congress)

      “Where rights are secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491.

      “When any court violates the clean and unambiguous language of the constitution, a fraud is perpetrated and no one is bound to obey it.” State v. Sutton Minn. 147, 65 NW 262, 30 L.R.A. 630 Am. St. 459)

      “The due process clause of the Fifth Amendment guarantees to each citizen the equal protection of the laws and prohibits a denial thereof by any federal official.” Bolling v. Sharpe, 327 U.S. 497

      . “Fraud vitiates the most solemn contracts, documents, and even judgments.” i.e. Documents, Constitutions, Court Decisions….. U.S. vs. Throckmorton, 98 U.S. 61

    9. Jesus says:

      look folks, theres only one way we can do this. Organizations like NORML help. But how many people know about it?? Heres what i’ve been doing. I go to a nice northern college where i swear at least 80% of the students smoke weed regularly. So I print some of these articles that NORML puts out up and i make copys. Spread them around, give them to people, get the message out. Whatever you gotta do to educate the common stoner who doesnt feel like working for this. DAMN IT TO HELL if we dont do something then who will?

      REMEMBER THAT WE, THE PEOPLE, HAVE THE POWER UNITED TOGETHER TO CHANGE THINGS! UNITED WE STAND!
      YES! WE! CANNABIS!

    10. God created this beautiful and useful plant to be used freely and to be growing freely along side his other beautiful plants to be seen for it’s beauty to be seen by all and not just those disgusting greedy slimeballs that have been getting extremely rich while the beautiful-good-harmless people are having their rights stomped on and made out to be criminals-quite a picture here huh!Seed winds up on someone’s property by animals,birds ,weather and these people wind of terrorized by the law thugs and their doors are busted open on their houses,locks cut ,clearly marked meat packages are sliced open in their freezers,valuables come up missing,all locks are cut,houses tore up and so much more only to find nothing and people passing 9 panel drug tests and this is happening with seed showing up and also misidentification of plants and then the victims and thir families are terroized with helicopters,and so forth constantly -Horible treatment to our beautiful-harmless-good american people that god loves very much and is more than likely thinking how much of a nightmare those greedy idiots are causing on his people over a God created plant meant to be used freely-YES MARIJUANA WAS MEANT TO BE USED FREELY AND GROWN FREELY!!!!!.I say let’s legalize and make marijuana not so valuable to those greedy freaks-put them out of business!!!!!!!!Gee maybe we need to overthrow the government and clean house and get things done as they should be and put a smile on God’s face and our faces for a change!!!!!!!!!!

    11. We really need to stop the horrible war on the people over a plant-think about it -it is just like the alcohol prohibition-all those dirty greedy greaseballs getting rich while the good beautiful people get a war on them -being terrorized and made to look like criminals when they are not!!!!!!!Let’s really do something about all of this -we all need to get together and really do something and get the ball rolling and as we pass through each area watch our numbers grow-Will be a sight to see-who knows it may seen as something big in history books.!!!!!!!!Who knows we may have to overthrow the government and clean house thoroughly and get things done as they should be!!!!!Hey anybody got some good ideas and get it rolling?!!!!!!!!!-We are ready!!!!!!!!!

    12. muggles says:

      Don’t just rant fight back
      Two words: Jury Nullification Anyone who is on a jury in a marijuana case should refuse to convict. Send a message to the government that marijuana laws are unjust
      You don’t have to wait until the next election to be heard.

    13. I think it the most interesting and attention grabbing point that this post brings up is how one of the initial reason for beginning the war on drugs was to “protect our children” from harmful and gateway drugs. If throughout the nation, and especially California, marijuana is easier of minors to obtain than alcohol then clearly this mission was a failure. The anti-smoking adds have made weed just as popular as alcohol among minors, and keeping it illegal is exposing these teens to users and pushers of more dangerous drugs. If there is already a clear working model for how an age requirement on a substance nearly eliminates its black market availability for minors, and legalizing weed would remove its relation to and presence around other, more dangerous drugs. Then is it just me or is the war on marijuana just another way that the government likes to throw money at an issue while still exacerbating the problem? Making weed legal for those who were over 21 would provide sales tax revenue for the government, save the government money on enforcing marijuana laws, and reduce its availability to minors. Great post, it brings up many sound points for legalization, and it does it using the drug enforcement’s own survey. Arguments such as these can not be ignored by the legislators forever.

    14. [...] on the 2008 figures, NORML Director Allen St. Pierre said: “Federal statistics released just last week indicate that larger percentages of Americans are using cannabis at the [...]

    15. [...] with cannabis will inevitably lead to the use of other illicit drugs persist in the media despite statistical data indicating that the overwhelming majority of those who try pot never go on to use cocaine or [...]

    16. [...] with cannabis will inevitably lead to the use of other illicit drugs persist in the media despite statistical data indicating that the overwhelming majority of those who try pot never go on to use cocaine or [...]

    17. [...] on the 2008 figures, NORML Director Allen St. Pierre said: Federal statistics released just last week indicate that larger percentages of Americans are using cannabis at the [...]

    18. [...] what? Usage has skyrocketed in the United States(5). Our prisons are crowded with non violent offenders. And worst of all, [...]

    19. [...] about drug use in this country, but even the probably way underestimated numbers indicate that 41% of the population has smoked pot in their lifetimes. I can say with certainty that there were very few students I went to college with who didn’t try [...]

    20. [...] about drug use in this country, but even the probably way underestimated numbers indicate that 41% of the population has smoked pot in their lifetimes. I can say with certainty that there were very few students I went to college with who didn’t try [...]

    21. Mynameis...Joe P says:

      The federal government needs to legalize marijuana and make it a government organization, so profits go towards the budget deficit. If they let it go state to state greedy corporate hands will get a hold of the gold mine and profits go to the rich’s pocket. We cannot allow that too happen. If it is government ran the funds all go to the government (except for the few workers who are required to get paid.) This in long term could lower taxes and such. C’mon who is not going to go out and buy some pot to smoke leisurely with your buddies after a long day at work or on the weekend after a long week? It is a goldmine that the federal government needs to capitalize before the business man does.

    22. Mynameis...Joe P says:

      The federal government needs to legalize marijuana and make it a government organization, so profits go towards the budget deficit. If they let it go state to state greedy corporate hands will get a hold of the gold mine and profits go to the rich’s pocket. We cannot allow that too happen. If it is government ran the funds all go to the government (except for the few workers who are required to get paid.) This in long term could lower taxes and such. C’mon who is not going to go out and buy some pot to smoke leisurely with your buddies after a long day at work or on the weekend after a long week? It is a goldmine that the federal government needs to capitalize before the business man does.

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