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Analysis: Criminal Justice Referrals Driving Youth Marijuana Treatment Admissions

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 17, 2017

    arrestedOver half of all young people entered into drug treatment for marijuana are placed there by the criminal justice system and this percentage is increasing, according to data published online in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

    A team of researchers from Binghamton University in New York and the University of Iowa reviewed youth marijuana treatment admission data (TEDS-A) during the years 1995 to 2012.

    Investigators reported that youth admissions for cannabis rose 65 percent during the study period – from 52,894 annual admissions in 1995 to 87,528 in 2012. Admissions rose most precipitously among Latinos (an increase of 256 percent since 1995) and African American youth (an increase of 86 percent). Criminal justice system referrals rose 70 percent during this same period, and now account for 54 percent of all substance abuse admissions by young people.

    Among those in treatment, half exhibited little if any evidence of suffering from marijuana dependence. Specifically, 30 percent of all young people admitted into marijuana treatment since 2008 had no record of having consumed cannabis in the 30 days prior to their admittance. Another 20 percent of those entered into treatment had use cannabis three times or fewer in the month prior to their admission. Prior evaluations of TEDS data among adults have yielded similar results.

    “Our findings indicate that the severity of drug use involved in those admissions has decreased,” authors concluded. “This study highlights the importance of identifying youth in actual need of treatment services.”

    Since the late 1990s, both youth use of marijuana and the prevalence of so-called ‘cannabis use disorder’ by young people have declined significantly.

    An abstract of the study, “Trends in youth marijuana treatment admissions: Increasing admissions contrasted with decreasing drug involvement,” is online here. My commentary about the data, “Blowing the lid off the marijuana treatment racket,” appears on Alternet.org here.

    3 Responses to “Analysis: Criminal Justice Referrals Driving Youth Marijuana Treatment Admissions”

    1. Julian says:

      Predatory “rehab” facilities using the criminal justice system to force teens and children to testify against their own parents or using AG Sessions to revive D.A.R.E. to promote more treatment recruitment is a form of state sanctioned terror.

      This parasitic behavior is a symptom of P.U.D.$. or Prohibition Use Disorder $yndrome.

      Our treatment for this are legal dispensaries of marijuana all across the nation.

      The cure for P.U.D.$ is fairly taxed and legal whole plant marijuana.

      The directions for the solution;
      Lets all click on the Act tab and meet with our state and federal representatives at every possible opportunity. Donate to NORML. Get high with our Congressman. No cellphones; just good old fashioned citizen lobbying with a twist.

    2. Miles says:

      Just because young people that have used cannabis go to a treatment center doesn’t mean that they need it. It just means it is better than the alternative they are given. I suspect that in the vast majority of cases if they were simply left alone they would be just fine.

    3. Ray says:

      I have a medical card in Ct. The prices at the dispensary an outrage. You can get better thc count for less than half price. They are greedy and priced themselves right out of the market. If one compares the street rate to dispensary price. This is sad when they cut one med and replace it with this expensive not as effective moneymaker.I have 55 pages of surgery records. This isn’t compassionate to anyone, Ray….

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