April 28, 2007
Slate has a long overdue debunking of the most venerable bit of smoke-blowing in the drug war lexicon: the notion that legalizing marijuana use is a bad idea because “today’s marijuana is much more potent” than it was in the Cheech and Chong-loving 1970s. As this timeline shows, that dire warning has been around for quite some time:
Bennett writes that the kinds of marijuana seized and tested vary from year to year, also. In 2000, sinsemilla, the extra-potent flowering tops of the marijuana plant, constituted 3.66 percent of the tested samples. In 2004, 18.39 percent of the samples were sinsemilla. Guess which year produced a higher average measure of THC? In 2000, the figure was about 5 percent. In 2004, about 7 percent.
The Reuters article also conveys the views of a National Institute on Drug Abuse official in reporting that “60 percent of teens receiving treatment for drug abuse or dependence report marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.” Kleiman’s blog puts the treatment numbers in perspective by pointing to the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research, which reports (PDF) that the increase in marijuana treatment admission is driven by the increase in criminal justice referrals. Marijuana arrests “have roughly doubled over the past fifteen years,” Kleiman writes in his blog, “with the vast bulk of those arrests . . . for simple possession. Other studies show that for juveniles, most non-criminal-justice referrals reflect parental pressure.”
I don’t use the stuff and I never have. But I also recognize that pot smoking is one of the most benign vices known to man. Its removal from the list of banned substances would send scary statistics about illegal drug use plummeting, taking with it the “War on Drugs” and its well-funded array of programs and military toys.