Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased again in 2011, with more American teenagers now using marijuana for the fourth year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2011, a slightly larger percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while slightly less had used alcohol. Marijuana use continues to rise among youth despite the continued policy of arresting nearly a million people every year for marijuana violations.
“This report, once again, clearly demonstrates that our nation’s policymakers have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to addressing teen marijuana use,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Political leaders have for decades refused to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren’t required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people. The continued decline in teen tobacco and alcohol use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It’s time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives – to keep marijuana away from young people – and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the easy access to marijuana that our irrational system gives teenagers.”
Since the survey’s inception, overwhelming numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2011 numbers, the use of alcohol – which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID – continued to decline among high school seniors, as did tobacco use.
“Arresting people for marijuana simply does not stop young people from using it, and it never will,” said Kampia. “It is time for a more sensible approach.”
Just to put that in perspective, it turns out that last year was the second biggest year for marijuana arrests in United States history!
Check it out:
It is very disturbing to see how far the actions of our law enforcement community really are from public opinion and actual rational thought when it comes to policy. The year with the second highest number of arrests in national history came simultaneously with an increased acceptance of marijuana use and an increase in public support for change. How does this make sense?
The good news is that we can stop this by supporting state and national reform measures in any way possible. While exact statistics aren’t available yet, it is certain that a noticeable percentage of the decrease in arrests over the last two years was due to MPP’s Question 2 passing in Massachusetts and going into effect in 2009. This initiative removed criminal penalties for the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and replaced the criminal penalty with the equivalent of a parking ticket. If we keep working together to pass sane, rational marijuana laws, we can make that number drop before next year.
The FBI released their annual Uniform Crime Report yesterday, and the results are anything but surprising. Across the country, people continue to be arrested for marijuana-related violations at an alarming rate, despite the steadily decreasing stigma associated with it and increasing efforts at reforming our irrational marijuana laws. And guess what? It still isn’t working. Our esteemed leaders claim otherwise, even while admitting that they need to change their tactics!
Over the past year, the Obama administration stated that the “war on drugs” is over, and that the government was going to shift its focus away from law enforcement and interdiction and instead put more effort toward public health and education with regard to drugs. At a press conference just last week, Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske stated that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.
If these statements are true, then how do they justify the arrests of more than 853,000 people for marijuana-related violations in 2010? That’s one person arrested every 19 seconds! The Drug Czar maintains that law enforcement protocols are still considered a useful tool for eliminating suppliers and dealers as a way to decrease overall use.
Okay, that seems like it makes sense. So how many of those 853,000 arrests were for sale or manufacture of marijuana? The answer is just over 103,000. That means that more than 750,000 people were arrested last year for simple possession! A remarkably small number of people who may have distributed marijuana were arrested last year, along with three quarters of a million simple users, in an effort to curb marijuana use nationwide. Continue reading →
ORIGINAL:In other Missouri news, college student Willson Nixon was arrested for possession of marijuana at a house party earlier this week. This happens every day in Missouri and around the country, unfortunately endangering the ability of students to continue their educations or find employment after college. Willson Nixon just happens to be the son of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
When asked about the incident, the Governor had this to say:
This is a private matter that will be handled through the municipal process. My son is a fine young man, and we will be working through this issue as a family.
It is unclear what kind of penalty Willson will pay for his youthful indiscretion, but it doesn’t sound like Dad is going to let him off the hook completely. Hopefully, this incident will remind the governor that marijuana prohibition hurts everyone, even “fine young men” like his son.
He should be thankful Willson wasn’t arrested like this:
Today, the Marijuana Policy Project released an updated version of the Teen Use Report, which analyzes all available data from medical marijuana states both before and after passing their medical marijuana laws. The purpose behind this was to find out if permitting patients to use their medicine “sends the wrong message” to teens, as prohibitionists are so quick to claim.
Well, it turns out that it doesn’t. In fact, of the 13 states with available data, teen use rates have stayed the same or decreased since enacting medical marijuana laws. In some cases, these drops in teen use are pretty significant. This is not meant to imply that there is a causal relationship between medical marijuana and a drop in teen use. What the report does show, however, is that there is definitely no causal relationship between medical marijuana and an increase in teen marijuana use.
Not surprisingly, we’ve seen that arresting anyone for marijuana, even teenagers, does nothing to curb adolescent marijuana use. Some parents may be asking right about now, “how do I prevent my teenager from using marijuana?”