Marijuana Arrests Continue To Drive Drug ‘Treatment’ Boom

[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 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 thoughts

  1. LongTime Puffer…Rebel here.

    I might as well post this again. Thanks for the motivation.

    Every human being that creepeth on all of the earth, wherein there is life, shares one human right – a natural right of mankind – a right [no one] can deprive a free individual of without a fight to the death. Care to venture a guess?

    I have a doctor/patient relationship – and – that relationship is protected by “doctor/patient confidentiality.” What is prescribed/recommended by my personal physician to be consumed internally – and -what specimens are collected externally are protected by that “confidentialiy.” In other words, what the doc says goes.

    Recent law prohibits discrimination against Qualified Patients in the workplace.

    If you, in your heart of hearts, honestly believe that handing over your urine for drug testing is not self incrimination, a violation of your 5th Amendment Right – then piss away – you’re pissing your Constitution down the drain. And – if you think that drug testing is voluntary – think again. It’s piss in a cup, or stand in the unemployment line. Random drug testing without probable cause violates our 4th Amendment Right. Drug testing does not for THC – it tests for metabolites.

    This what I would say to an employer requiring drug teasting.

    With all due respect for your company’s policy on drug testing, I reserve the right to a physician/patient relationship – and – regard any specimen taken from my body as priveledged physician/patient confidentiality. Therefore, I do not give my consent to, or allow any specimen that is taken from my body to become public or private knowledge. Because I am equally concerned about substance abuse in the workplace, and because I am a Qualified Patient with a verified pysician’s recommendation to consume medical cannabis, I will consent to any test, as a condition of my employment that precludes testing for metabolite, THC, or any test that detects cannabis in my system.

    Puffer…Is this helpful?

  2. Hey Rebel,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Been busy at work–and sisters-in-law are in town visiting, so I haven’t had a chance to get on the computer much.

    Thanks for your opinion on the subject. We agree 100%. I hate the idea of any company violating my privacy as I do the govt doing so. I haven’t had to worry about any tests lately, as I’ve been at the same company for over 10 years. But I have been considering leaving the place–just tired of it–and figure if/when I start looking for another job, I’d better get ready for the tests!!! (Can you say cold turkey?)

    Anyway, my Mem Day was great–hope yours was too.

    best wishes, Puffer

  3. 53 LongTime Puffer

    Rebel here!

    The best damned thing the Republicans can do is endorse medicinal cannabis. They would sweep the elections if they got us on thier side. Moderation, everything in moderation. Moderate Republicans/moderste democrats. I really dislike bringinmg politics into the picture – but – it seems that’s what it all comes down to in the end.

    I’m in San Diego, California. Where are you originating from?

  4. The psych industry is heavily enmeshed with the drug “rehabilitation” industry. The psych industry is itself corrupt and oppressive. Many of the same corporations that profit off of the private psychiatric industry likely make loads of money from the drug “rehab” industry. The legal drugs prescribed by psychiatrists are frequently very addictive, unlike pot. Very often, being in a drug “rehab” facility is often a gateway to being forced on to psychiatric drugs, because some psychiatrists say that use of illegalized drugs is a “symptom” of “mental illness”. One very good web site that I recommend is

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