Fail: Drug Czar Tries To Link Marijuana and Crime

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 30, 2013

    The nation’s so-called ‘drug czar’, Gil Kerlikowske, convened a press conference last week to release new government data on drug use in America. The major talking points for the presentation were two fold:

    *Insist that cannabis is linked to crime

    *The public sentiment in favor of legalization is an unfortunate attraction to ‘bumper sticker solutions’

    One could write a doctoral thesis on Mr.Kerlikowske’s supposition and claims, but suffice for space and time, let’s let the now much more watchdog media on the issue of ending cannabis prohibition better describe what they’ve figured out about ONDCP propaganda, data and the intellectual crime of omission. (Boy, do I have a book recommendation for them…)

    Slate reported on the ONDCP’s well established proclivity to throw out data and insinuate causality…using squishy terms like ‘linked’:

    On Thursday, Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced the results of a study that—at least according to him—demonstrated a link between marijuana use and crime. The study analyzed data collected via the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program (ADAM II), which took urine samples from arrestees in five cities over a 21-day period last year. “Marijuana remained the drug most often detected in ADAM II arrestees in all five sites in 2012, ranging from 37 percent of ADAM II arrestees testing positive in Atlanta to 58 percent testing positive in Chicago,” the study reported. “In three of the five sites, over half of the adult male arrestees tested positive for marijuana.”

    Kerlikowske, who opposes marijuana legalization, said in a speech Thursday that the study showed that America needs to “acknowledge and come to grips with the link between crime and substance use.” But correlation is not causation. Just because a high percentage of arrestees tested positive for marijuana does not mean that smoking marijuana made them commit crimes. Here are other things that over half of the adult male arrestees probably had in common: pants, food in their stomachs, a mother who loves them, an impoverished background, an affinity for one or more of the local sports teams.

    Now, Kerlikowske only said that drug use and crime were linked, not that drug use causescrime. But still, the implications are obvious. Kerlikowske is not a stupid man, and he’s not actually a terrible drug czar. He has argued that drug abuse needs to be treated as a public health issue, not just a matter of criminal justice, and I couldn’t agree more. In his speech, Kerlikowske mentioned the need to move the drug policy reform debate beyond “bumper stickers.” One good way to do that is to move beyond studies that don’t necessarily say anything at all.

    Reason’s Mike Riggs (a prolific and resourceful blogger about criminal justice matters) took the ONDCP to task one step further by busting the office for omitting alcohol related data and not informing the public more accurately about the most problematic and abused drug for incoming criminal defendants: alcohol

    The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released a study last week that found the majority of arrestees in five metropolitan areas tested positive for marijuana at the time they were booked, and that many other arrestees tested positive for harder drugs. There was one drug missing from the report, however, and it appears it was omitted intentionally. That drug is alcohol.

    When I wrote up the 2012 annual report on the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program II, I noticed that the methodology section contained a list of “data domains”; basically, a guide to the questions researchers asked each arrestee. Every question listed had a corresponding chart in the findings section of the report, save one: The data that researchers collected about alcohol consumption–how often arrestees had consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a single session over the last three, seven, and 30 days, as well as in the past 12 months–was omitted from the report.

    46 responses to “Fail: Drug Czar Tries To Link Marijuana and Crime”

    1. Anna White says:

      He said nothing about the medical uses for marijuana or the fact what these people were actually arrested for. The fact that these people had marijuana in there systems doesn’t mean they committed a crime to obtain it. Where’s that “link”. The fact is marijuana has natural healing properties and if you can use it to cure yourself then the money they get in the form of personal financial bonuses won’t come in. Try working on the war on addiction because if there is no demand there will be no need to supply it…DUH!!!

    2. What Causes Bigots to favor Specious Culture Wars?

      It’s not the Drugs, it’s The Drug War …and the Economy!

      The ring leader of the largest terrorist organization on Earth, the DEA, has the never to accuse it’s victims?

      End the Bigoted War on Drugs to Reduce gun violence, and the violence of the world’s largest per capita prison population.

    3. Brandon Boucher says:

      What a f’ng pinhead!


    5. Anonymous says:

      The only answer is, Gil Kerlikowske, Holder and the rest got to be getting huge sums of bribery money ( political donations )from Pharma & big Alcohol . They just aren’t giving up .

    6. Gone2PotLESSness says:

      …Meanwhile, those who have the propensity to,
      (but have NOT the SAFER alternative, i.e. cannabis),
      can allowably get destructive and criminally drunk
      because alcohol is NOT a dangerous, evil “ILLEGALDRUG™®”
      and THEREFORE, statistically “insignificant”….

    7. jmalmo says:

      Drug abuse needs to be treated as a public health issue. Period.

    8. windy city says:

      …uh, this is so void of meaningful data that the now enlightened and less gullible public is totally ignoring these skewed stats as they know propaganda when they read or hear it.

      To be fair, Gil Kerlikowske needs to go back to school to see what the rest of the planet has learned about Cannabinoids and the benefits it contains curing,CURING cancers and other diseases.

      He is just woefully ignorant and I hope that it isn’t because he is being paid to be ignorant by Big Pharma and the alcohol industries, which he NEVER MENTIONED ONE TIME!

      Yeppers, people use the internet and learn that anti-marijuana propaganda was just that, LIES and Deceit to profit the few and hurt the many.

      Uh, Gil Kerlikowske, you get an EPIC FAIL…

    9. mr.gallie says:

      They are simply linking the crime to cannabis to stop the production of other products in the market place. The real travesty is the continuation of outsourcing useless products that cause economic and environmental duress on the world. Pharma, food, transportation, clothing, etc will all change. The people who invested in these current ideals choose to shoot down the product to simply keep lining their pockets. Deception is a true salesmen tactic and since 1937 they have succeeded with the vale over our eyes. Enough is enough, the country is in turmoil, the economy and environmental safety of the Earth is in jeopardy. Hemp is the logical answer for more reasons than medical use or relaxing after a long day. Please read this and realize other than not buying their cigarettes or alcohol or ‘food-like’ food or ‘feel better’ medication they truly don’t care what you do. They simply want your capital to make there capital better. The devil will lose, because the burning bush want’s to help lead us to the promise land. We must simply walk in the right direction

    10. mr.gallie says:

      Gil Kerlikowske also worked for the Seattle Police Department. He wants the police to succeed and grow because that is what business he was brought up in. Marijuana arrests in 853,838 in 2010. If every person arrested makes them $10. $8,538,380, which is needed since annual growth rate of 1.6 percent for law enforcement jobs, which exceeds the 1.2 percent population growth rate in the United States. They need cannabis to be illegal because they would lose money. But when your either a cop/doctor/lawyer or in jail things start to make less sense. I hope people understand yes economics and money is good, but in this case it can’t be everything. You should never profit off of someone else’s life. Didn’t Lincoln try and abolish that once……hmmm