Marijuana Arrests Continue To Drive Drug ‘Treatment’ Boom

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 24, 2010

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.

    You can also read my previous commentary on the subject, “The Feds Are Addicted to Pot — Even If You Aren’t,” available from Alternet.org here.]

    Nearly six out of ten people admitted to drug ‘treatment’ for marijuana are referred there by the criminal justice system, according to a just-released report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA).

    In 2008, 57 percent of persons referred to treatment for marijuana as their ‘primary substance of abuse,’ were referred by the criminal justice system. For adolescents, nearly half (48 percent) were referred via the criminal justice system.

    By contrast, criminal justice referrals accounted for just 37 percent of the overall total of drug treatment admissions in 2008.

    “Primary marijuana admissions were less likely than all admissions combined to be self-referred to treatment,” the study found.

    Since 1998 the percentage of individuals in drug treatment primarily for marijuana has risen approximately 25 percent, the report found. This increase is being primarily driven by a proportional rise in the percentage of criminal justice referrals. According to a previous federal study, the proportion of marijuana treatment admissions from all sources other than the criminal justice system has been declining since the mid-1990s.

    Commenting on the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These statistics make it clear that it is not marijuana use per se that is driving these treatment admission rates; it is marijuana prohibition that is primarily responsible. These people for the most part are not ‘addicts’ in any true sense of the word. Rather, they are ordinary Americans who have experienced the misfortune of being busted for marijuana who are forced to choose between rehab or jail.

    According to federal figures compiled by SAMHSA in 2009, some 37 percent of the estimated 288,000 thousand people who entered drug treatment for cannabis in 2007 had not reported using it in the 30 days previous to their admission. Another 16 percent of those admitted said that they’d used marijuana three times or fewer in the month prior to their admission.

    Full text of the report, “Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 1998-2008: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services,” is available online here.

    55 responses to “Marijuana Arrests Continue To Drive Drug ‘Treatment’ Boom”

    1. John says:

      I have to ask, is anyone actually surprised?

    2. I was reefered to Marijuana anonymous at 52 years old by a drug court. Then remanded for talking to much about medical marijuana & forced to take Viox and Motrin (NSAID’s) in jail or face solitary confinement in a cold dark cell for not taking”necessary” medication. taking NSAID’S about 1 year later I had a full blown heart attack from taking NSAID’S like Viox and Celebrex and have never recovered fully.

    3. Glenn says:

      It is with great interest that I read this article about Marijuana Arrests Continue To Drive Drug ‘Treatment’ Boom. I am a medical marijuana user in Colorado and have all my legal documents and what not. I did not get aressted, however, after failing a random drug test at work, and fighting it for nearly a month I now have to attend monthly drug abuse treatment for two years as well as suubmit to random, observed UA’s. I also had to complete six hours of drug abuse treatment before they would let me come back to work. All of this is being paid out of my own pocket. Fortunately I was allowed to keep my job. I suffer from chronic migraines and am on so many prescription meds that half the time I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m still trying to get my work to allow me to use my marijuana but it has been a slow process.

    4. Stephen Price says:

      Those statistics don’t even include people like me and five of my co-workers who were forced into treatment for failing a drug test at work. I can’t smoke weed anymore for fear of losing my job. I just don’t see why the company I work for can terminate someones job for smoking an herb but then turn around and serve alcohol for free at the company’s annual open house, Christmas party and Husker football tailgate parties. They don’t even seem to mind people driving home drunk after these parties. Hypocrites if you ask me.

    5. Hatt says:

      I am one of those individuals that have been affected by this system, (the 14th Judicial system of Colorado in particular) and it is corrupt, unorganized, and is controlled by people who are mostly biased against Cannabis–opinions formed mainly due to the people that use this medicine in a unethical manner! I think the increase Cannabis rehab patients are due to many reasons besides the laws now in effect: The profit that can be made by rehab clinics, keeping tax dollars from being spent on jailing Cannabis users/possessors, (most of who happen to be forthright and noble individuals) and by bigots that feed of the demonization of Cannabis i. e. the DEA, Police, and people way behind the progression of marijuana. Those percentages are disheartening yet we must heed to this evidence of fascism in our country, and not allow the true victims of prohibition be left to carry this burden alone. There is call to those that want to see Marijuana become more acceptable, appreciated, and protected by the people that cherish it fully–write to your statesmen and urge them to see that Cannabis is a gift to folk, and not the harmful street drug.
      Here is a brand new challenge for us all. Lets not let this get swept under the rug!

    6. Hatt says:

      Opps! “the increase IN Cannabis rehab…

    7. cjd says:

      A lot of people have to go to a substance abuse program after failing a urine test for having a CDL (commercial drivers license). And that is also a go or get fired choice.What a joke, its been proven Cannabis consumers are SAFER drivers.Getting off the subject a little. We need a imparement test for Cannabis, like alcohol’s breathalyzer,that will tell if you are impared at the time of the test.A Blood, saliva or urine test cannot tell if you are impared at the time of the test. We need a minimum allowable rate and an impared rate,like alcohol’s .05 or.08 rate.Failing a piss test and NOT being high at the time of the test is just total BS. We need a test that checks for THC levels not metabolites.Innocent otherwise law abiding citizens should not be penalized for choosing the SAFER allternative.

    8. Anonymous says:

      Could this be done by those employed in the Pharmaceutical / Alcohol Industry & they are fighting back ?
      Montana — The vandals struck in the middle of the night, hurling Molotov cocktails through the windows of two medical marijuana businesses and spray-painting “NOT IN OUR TOWN” just before the Billings City Council was supposed to take up a ban on any new pot shops.

      Montana and other states that have legalized medical marijuana are seeing a backlash, with public anger rising and politicians passing laws to slow the proliferation of pot shops and bring order to what has become a wide-open, Wild West sort of industry.

      They are looking to avoid what happened in California, which allowed the pot industry to grow so out of control that at one point Los Angeles had more medical marijuana shops than Starbucks _ about 1,000 by one count.

      “Yeah, it’s out of control _ and it needs control, if not extinction,” Montana Sen. Jim Shockley said Friday. “There’s no control over distribution. There’s no control over who’s growing it. There’s no control in dosage.”

    9. SFnative says:

      Most of the rest of those in treatment were likely referred as a result of random drug tests in the workplace. I am one of those unfortunates whose extremely moderate use landed them in a drug rehab on pain of losing their job.
      A lot is said about legalizing marijuana, but for many of us all the legalization and decriminalization won’t save us from being pummeled with religious 12 step programs and Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs).
      Current methods of testing does not address workplace abuse which I am wholly against, but traps medicinal users, and even the most moderate of recreational use.
      Other countries (and some US workplaces)utilize a swab test for workplace and also at roadside random tests See South Australia’s drug site http://www.dtei.sa.gov.au/roadsafety/Safer_behaviours/Drug_driving/drug_driving_faqs
      “The devices used are able to detect THC (active component in cannabis) for several hours after use. The exact time will vary depending on the amount and potency of the cannabis used and the individual metabolism. Inactive THC residue in the body of a driver from use in previous days or weeks will not be detected.”
      This detection method is immediate, more cost effective, and allows for medicinal use, as well it would DETECT DRUG USE IN THE WORKPLACE, what a concept!
      We need to lobby federal agencies and sympathetic politicians to stop the invasion of our privacy, unwarranted and invasive searches of our bodies, and criminalization of our personal behavior.

    10. a little something for you from a former Humboldt County resident .

      I doubt the first pot pioneers in Humboldt County, referred to as “back-to-the-landers” during the late 1960s, realized they might someday sow the seeds for an industry which could financially bail out the state of California.

      In a delightful, ironic twist, those intrepid pioneers who fled the establishment to seek a simpler way of life must now re-establish contact with the “man” if they want to survive legalization and maintain their way of life.

      Most fear legalization. They worry their profit margin will shrink so badly — from taxes and competition — they won’t be able to make a living. Some ask if growing for medical marijuana dispensaries will be enough to keep them in business.

      The good news is that growers, law enforcement officials, nonprofits and city governments are already holding public meetings to work out what happens here after legalization. One of the first meetings, held in Garberville (Southern Humboldt) in March, was covered nationwide.

      What’s After Pot (WAP) founder Anna Hamilton spoke during the Garberville meeting about the need to save the pot economy and prepare for legalization. She’s attempting to bring local growers together so they can adapt to paying taxes and becoming part of the system they ran away from 40 years ago.

      In preparation for legalization, a task force headed up by Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace was formed to define regulatory issues surrounding grows.

      The Humboldt
      Quantcast Quantcast
      Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel (HuMMAP) works to organize growers, businesses and employees of the cannabis industry. They held their second meeting on May 18 at the Garberville Civic Club.

      Humboldt County’s famous “killer buds” are already a brand name that can be utilized to encourage tourism by creating businesses that appeal to pot smokers.

      I suspect we’ve had tourists coming here for that covert reason ever since the word slipped out about strains like “Granddaddy Purple” and others that raised the bar in worldwide cannabis culture