Washington, DC: A newly released federal report refutes claims by US Drug Czar John Walters that the United States is being inundated with Canadian pot, that the drug’s potency is dramatically rising, and that marijuana poses a greater public health threat than heroin or cocaine.
According to the US Department of Justice report, “National Drug Threat Assessment 2004,” the overwhelming majority of commercial grade marijuana consumed in the US comes from California and Mexico. The report further adds that Hawaii, not Canada, is the US’ “leading source of high potency marijuana.” The report estimated that between 10,000 and 24,000 metric tons of marijuana is available in the US.
In recent months, Walters has testified that the US marijuana market is being inundated with high potency cannabis from British Columbia, dubbing it the “crack of marijuana.” Most recently, Walters has claimed that this influx of Canadian pot is directly responsible for sending rising numbers of Americans to the emergency room.
According to the DOJ report, however, increased mentions of marijuana during emergency room visits “in recent years have not been significant,” and account for less than ten percent of all drug mentions. The report further stated that the average THC content of US commercial grade marijuana is around five percent, despite claims by Walters that today’s marijuana potency levels are “10 to 20 times stronger” than they were a generation ago.
Authors of the report note that despite federal and state anti-drug efforts, marijuana remains “widely available” in the United States, with “98.2 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide [describing] marijuana availability as high or moderate.” Nevertheless, only 13 percent of state and local law enforcement agencies identified marijuana as “their greatest drug threat,” and less than five percent identified pot as “the drug most contributing to violent crime in their areas.”
The release of the DOJ report came on the eve of an announcement from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that the administration plans “to shift some of the focus in research and enforcement from ‘hard’ drugs such as cocaine and heroin to marijuana.”
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of the NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-5500. Copies of the report are available online at: