Marijuana Treatment: What the Feds Won’t Tell You

Mar 18, 2009

For years federal officials have been trying to scare Americans, especially parents, into believing that marijuana is dangerously addictive. Former drug czar John Walters loved to deploy frightening statistics, as when he told the Cincinnati Post in 2005,  “Nationwide, the number of teens seeking treatment for marijuana abuse or dependency was higher than for all illegal drugs combined.”

But the latest federal report on drug treatment admissions, released this week, shows that the majority of those in treatment for alleged marijuana abuse or dependence didn’t seek treatment at all: They were forced into it.

According to the new report, which covers 2007 admissions, only 14.8% of marijuana treatment admissions involved people of any age checking themselves in to get help.  That compares to 36.1% for smoked cocaine users and 58.1% for heroin users. And in contrast to those in treatment for these truly addictive drugs, 56.9% of marijuana treatment admissions were generated by the criminal justice system. That is, people — mostly young people — got arrested for marijuana, were offered treatment instead of jail and, understandably, chose treatment.

A few other interesting tidbits about those in treatment for supposed marijuana abuse or dependence: They’re disproportionately young, with over 40% aged 19 or under (as compared to 1.7% for cocaine and 2.7% for heroin). They’re more likely than those  in treatment for other drugs to be employed, which is particularly startling given that so many are so young they’re still in school. And they’re far more likely than users of other drugs to be receiving outpatient treatment, with only 2.2% receiving inpatient detoxification, compared to 16.8% for smoked cocaine, 30% for alcohol, and 33% for heroin.

All in all, this is a portrait of a population that bears little or no resemblance to a group of addicts. The majority appears to be receiving drug abuse treatment they don’t need in order to satisfy a legal system gone mad.

54 responses to “Marijuana Treatment: What the Feds Won’t Tell You”

  1. Bruce, thank you for being on top of things…..reading your columns regularly is a real treat that I look forward to daily.

  2. Dear Bruce Mirken & Readers,
    I just don’t understand how the government can continue to lead people with lies and at best incorrect information. The prospects of living in another country for most Americans who desire a better life must look pretty tempting. Isreal has the best marijuana programs and South America is a financial bananza for people looking for opportunities to financially do very well.

    War criminals will pay for their acts against humanity after prohibition has ended.

    Thanks Again Bruce Mirken

  3. Wow, wonderfully spoken Bruce. This is one of those things where the new “science over politics” should be shining a spotlight on. Can they really not see these things?

  4. They have been doing this for 10 years or so in bucks county PA. The kids are given a choice to “volunteerly seek addiction treatment” or go to court. We are living in a police state. we have failed our founding fathers badly. But its never to late!!!! Places like TODAY INC, make money off this. Google Lurzerne county court house scandle (Pa)

  5. So sad that bullies can force/intimidate others through “pleading guilty to a lesser offense.”

    “We’ll charge you with mother stabbing and father rape (Alice’s Restaurant) unless you plead guilty to the lesser offense of _________.”

    Typically when I hear people like Walters speak, I instantly start wondering about the facts underlying the distortions.

    Plus you gotta worry about the people who go through those brainwashing sessions. Here are a few options I see: they come out believing, more passionately than their teachers, that marijuana is wrong, or they become so hateful of govt./authority they have trouble understanding the benefits of an organized society and think all authority figures are gross hypocrites, or they become masters of the multi-face where they kiss-ass “yes sir” “no ma’am” but are thinking “what a bunch of ass hole chumps,” or…

    I’m reminded too of extortion and “protection money.” “Pay us $_____ and we’ll watch over you. Don’t… and well, I can’t promise you’ll be safe. And you might end up getting really hurt.”

    Bottom line, statistics in the mouths of corrupt liars can be painted in any of the many popular colors of the day.

    “Nationwide, the number of teens seeking treatment for marijuana abuse or dependency was higher than for all illegal drugs combined.”

    Really means:

    “Nationwide, we were able to catch, trick, trap, and intimidate more marijuana users than all illegal drugs combined. (Those marijuana smoking pansies sure are a pushover compared to the belligerent coke heads or incessantly lying heroin/meth addicts.)


    “Nationwide, the number of teens we caught, trapped, and intimidated was an all time high! With the possible exception of some courtrooms in PA (, we were able to bully more kids into, snicker, ‘treatment facilities,’ and shame them into thinking marijuana is evil, than all other illegal drugs combined.

    “Based on the past pattern of things, we predict we will have even more next year, more the year after that, even more the year after that, still more the year after that, and so on! Long live the lucrative marijuana prohibition!

    “We need our teenagers! Where do you think we get our supply of fighters to die in foreign lands?”

    These people’s mouth’s/lies are weapons of mass destruction.

  6. It’s a shame that our country is living such a big lie, while we all are perfectly aware that we’re being forced to live it.

  7. i know this is a little off topic, but what is budder? I BHO bad for you? when will marijuana be legal 4 me to smoke? im in the army?

  8. i know this is a little off topic, but what is budder? Is BHO (i think BHO means butane hash oil) bad for you? when will marijuana be legal 4 me to smoke? im in the army. and if i make cannabutter and bake cookies do yall think i can get them back to iraq ofter R and R?

  9. Wow, So. Africa I’ll check into that. I was leaning more in the direction of Spain, but hey I’ve got three plus years to work it out. I am so sick of the police state the is the USA that I will leave if things do not change with Obama in office. A side note, does anyone give a flyin f*uck what Dickhead Chenny has to say? On cnbc no less, didn’t he already pay for Fux news?

  10. This is no surprise. I used to visit a friend in rehab (alcohol) and the majority of his fellow rehabers were in for harder drugs. Everyone used to make fun of the folks who where there for MJ. As the article indicates, all of them were there because:

    A. Mommy and Daddy threatened to take away their (insert privledge here).

    B. Their lawyer told them it would look good for the courts.

    C. It was required under their terms of probation.

    I suppose it’s not worth mentioning that marijuana is the drug most readily available to teens. Or the fact that teens are the most likely to be busted with marijuana, since most aren’t permitted to partake in their own homes, etc.

  11. Thank you for telling people about the truth, I myself have smoked weed for 4 years I’m 19 now and never better I’ve never done any other illegal drugs and never intend to, marijuana have never done me any harm except to my lungs a bit but smoking cigarettes would have made them even worse then marijuana in my opinion. So thanks so setting the record strait about marijuana.

  12. One other scare tacktic used by law enforcment today is the BS about stronger marijuana; I grew up in the south coastal area in the 70’s and we got the real redbud, columbian gold, and afgan. this stuff would blow your mind, i haven’t had any quit as good. Growing conditions have the most to do with the quality. I guess if most are smoking mex-brick and comparing it to “Medical Cannabis” then yes it is a lot more potent, but the ole school stuff was still much better.

  13. I have personally been in trouble with marajuana. ive been forced into treatment for a possesion of it. they told me that i either go to treatment or it is going to be on my perminate record. i had no choice. granted its against the law. but jesus cant a guy get hi every once in a while?!?! –

  14. sorry to get off subject but president obama is going to appear on the jay leno show tonight he will be discussing the economic situaution lets see if we can’t get jay to bring up the legalization question. Everybody email the tonight show and let them know your thoughts.

  15. Risking my reputation here again, MARIJUANA IS NOT PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE. There are cases of users being mentally attached but for the record, marijuana is NOT addictive. Now, proove me wrong!

  16. University Of Maryland’s, Center For Substance Abuse, published the following.

    Is Marijuana Addictive?

    The debate between marijuana and addiction has been growing steadily over the last decade. Many users may not display any signs of addiction or withdrawal, yet the number of users seeking treatment has been growing steadily over the years.6 Overall, it is difficult to say whether or not the drug is physically addictive, but it is known that marijuana use can lead to psychological addiction and social dependence.7

  17. I think it’s sad that we’ve been lied to, and in turn SOME of us believe the lie that Marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug. In my experience I have found it to be quite the contrary. Alcohol, now that is a gateway drug that KILLS daily, whether it be in vehicular accidents, alcohol poisoning, or domestic violence. Pot never killed anyone I knew or loved.
    It’s SAD that we criminalize people who smoke herb. More than likely it has been here far longer than human civilization. Civilization, is that what we’re calling it these days? Is it civilized to punnish someone who is not hurting anyone (not even themselves)?
    It’s horrible that our youth has been tricked into becoming a bogus statistic. My husband went to “diversion class” so as not to have to pay a hefty fine or spend any jail time. After reading this article I have to say I was a little perturbed that even my own husband has become part of the crap statistics their spoonfeeding us (and the unenlightened believe it, it’s a joke).

    The evidence points clearly to the fact that marijuana users have become the modern day witch and the United States goverment has become the judges of Salem, virtually hanging the pot smokers and letting murderers rapists meth/coke/heroin distributors and posessors walk free and clear. Now, unless our new president can change some of the laws that harshly convict and sentence people for 100 years in prison for growing their own stash(FACT: a 38 yr old man from OK convicted for growing and using his marijuana to aleviate his rhumatoid arthritis was sentenced to 93 yrs in prison), then I say we can not trust the government.
    Why on earth marijuana was illegalized in the first place is beyond me. We can get arrested for smoking a joint but we are applauded when we knock back alcohol. Had our country decided we needed to outlaw alcohol and legalize weed we might have a much mellower civilization(perhaps we could have been considered civilized). Maybe there would be less domestic violence had that happened. But alas, it did not happen this way. Instead we have Husbands who get drunk daily and beat their wives and children. Coke heads neglecting their children. Meth addicts stealing whatever they can to get their next fix.
    I find it hard to believee that pot is more addictive than alcohol. I also find it hard to believe pot leads to “harder” drugs. In my own experience, I started with alcohol-and I worked my way up (or down) from there, and now I only drink on rare occasions. I guess my point is that Marijuana should be decriminalized, taxed and age monitored.
    Marijuana could throw down the hemp rope and pull America out of it’s financial ruin (think about that Obama). Think about it Uncle Sam, we honestly WANT to be able to trust you. But we cannot trust a government that criminalizes a plant, that doesnt go through any type of chemical transformation (cigarettes, cocaine, opium, alcohol, prescription meds). Also, I find it hard to trust a government that doesn’t ALLOW regular adults to partake in such a peaceful vice. Like Ma always said, stay away from pills and powders, if it grows in the ground it’s probobly okay. (Harold Ramis in the movie Knocked up)

  18. I sent an email to Jay Leno asking him if he can discuss cannabis legalization with Obama on the show tonight. What a good idea!

    I recommend everyone send an email!

  19. Universities around the country force students caught smoking to go to COUNSELING AND TREATMENT PROGRAMS regardless of how much or how often they smoke

  20. Marijuana is psychologically addictive. This is what the authorities tell us. Well, working out is psychologically addictive. Eating lots of food is psychologically addictive. Being in love is psychologically addictive. Hell, alcohol, sex, and cigarettes are without question physically addictive, yet we continue to classify marijuana to be as dangerous as crack and other drugs. I know countless numbers of people who smoke marijuana. I also don’t know anyone without a job, with credit problems, beats their wife, etc. The government continues to spout all these negatives over and over, but anyone with any bit of skepticism can see through their exaggerations and misapplications of fact. Needless to say, I still don’t think marijuana will ever be legal. Lucky for me, I’m white, live in the suburbs, am college educated, and have a stable job, so I can still smoke in relative peace. What a waste of resources this war on marijuana is.

  21. Interesting…. none of you really knows the truth: marijuana and such (there are thousands of other products available) makes the body systems susceptible for what you call here “heavy drugs”, and not only that. However, your doctors do not tell you and pharmaceutical companies deny that painkillers act in a similar way. So, you are really making yourself an easy target, which can be manipulated into anything, compromise with anybody and sell everything. Other than that – marijuana is not more dangerous then a box of chocolates, but then again 23.6 million americans have diabetus, so you are okay, really 🙂

  22. Great post.

    All of you go NOW to your nearest video store and request they stock The Union: The Business Behind Getting High.

    This film was produced 2.5 years ago and has done the festival tour, winning many, many awards.

    It is a must-see.

    Website is

    Info on the film release will be on there. Scheduled for April in Canada.. not sure if the DEA in the US is going to be down with having their web of lies blown apart….

    The film’s on the torrents, but please, if you can, either buy it or rent it… The filmmakers spend a wad making the film and they – much more than the bloody DEA – deserve to be compensated for a great documentary.

    Also look for Woody Harellson’s GRASS – it’s on Google Videos.

  23. Great post. I learned something new. Anyway, I’d like to point out that in addition to parents and law enforcement forcing kids to enter treatment, colleges and universities play a big role as well. I have had several friends get in trouble for having marijuana on a college campus with the result being enrollment in a treatment program. It’s even more underhanded than the law because they have more to threaten you with. If you don’t enter treatment they will not only get the authorities involved, but they can also kick you out of dorms or out of school (and tell your parents…) . This is somewhat understandable though as students usually have to sign an agreement that specifically prohibits drug use in order to enroll or live on a campus .

  24. The only way a government can control the population is to make something illegal. Why do government want to control the demographic that uses marijuana?

  25. Interesting…. none of you really knows the truth: marijuana and such (there are thousands of other products available) makes the body systems susceptible for what you call here “heavy drugs”, and not only that. However, your doctors do not tell you and pharmaceutical companies deny that painkillers act in a similar way. So, you are really making yourself an easy target, which can be manipulated into anything, compromise with anybody and sell everything.

  26. Well played. People need education before they can convict anyone… and the truth is that no1 deserves conviction for weed. Honestly. The high off weed is boring compared to the high off alcohol. And yes, lets not forget that alcohol use gives you a HIGH. you’re not jst drunk…

  27. Adame; you may be right, but that has not been my experience. I am 41 yrs. old and I have a mixed drink maybe once every 6 months or so. In my life, I have smoked weed and drank alcohol. I have been offered coke, meth, crack; which I refused. I have no interest in trying the harder drugs. If I can get weed; it is a YAY! If I can’t; ah well, no big deal. I guess that is why the “reefer madnes” crap makes me so mad!
    BTW, my father was an alcoholic and the abuse I had to endure taught me how NOT to act around other people.
    The fact that alcohol, which can make people VERY mean, is legal and bud, which makes people mellow, is not; angers me.

  28. its true i got poped for a weed charge in ut and was court ordered to do treatment for my addiction with a company that was not control by the government. Based on some standardized test it took they determine my level of addiction and how many hours it will take to cure me. Like every other thing out there its all about money since i was court ordered they could charge whatever they wanted

  29. But one fact in a sea of lies…I’ll admit I expected a much more thorough article than this. But its still nice to see statistics and numbers for what was common knowledge.

  30. Oh and Adame, you’re not well informed, in fact, you may be insane. Other drugs do not “prep” your body for the “harder” ones. I don’t even know what that would entail. What exactly would it do? I’m sorry, having popped a few Vicodin in your life does not make you more susceptible to drug use or abuse, you will not suddenly find yourself face first in a mountain of coke, and marijuana use won’t prepare your body for the rigors of heroin abuse. Its crazy misinformed nut jobs like you who put a bad name on harmless recreational use.

  31. As someone who was forced into rehab for occasionally smoking ‘pot’ at the age of 19. Kicked out of the house at 18. Told I couldn’t see my family unless I joined this program for 10k a month!

    Here’s what I got, and what your kids get out of rehab:

    -Laughed at everyday for ‘only’ smoking pot
    -Counselors never took me seriously
    -Got a great Drug 101 course from addicts in how to cook,make,parachute just bout everything. And I mean it.
    -‘pot’ withdrawal is a joke that results in practically ‘zero’ medical treatment
    -counselor said i’m not dependent and that if i so wanted to reward myself down the road and light up, then so be it

    So I didn’t smoke for a year, and then decided to reward myself while I was over at my parent’s house. So I got kicked out again and still to this day I do not talk to my parents. And they prob. think I am dead in a ditch. But at least the responded sound as they should according to our Drug Lord John Walters.


  32. Please, make marijuana legal now. It’s not even a drug. It’s a plant. It’s totally harmless. If you want to make something illegal.. do cigarettes. Nice story, by the way. 🙂

  33. After years of being told the “sky is green” when we know it is really blue, does anyone in the government wonder why the government is held in such low regard? .

    Re-legalizing marijuana is one way the government can prove that it really is changing for the better and developiong a more honest relationship with America. Imagine the concept of crdibility in the DEA! With a better government it could happen.

  34. Hey all,
    I am sitting here thinking of something I have considered in the past. Shouldn’t the FCC, or some “initial agency”, be regulating the messages dispersed by the media. Aren’t there charges levied against those who falsely advertise and intentionaly misinform. Free speach is one thing but abuse of power to disinform society should be able to be made accountable.
    A case of this sort would be huge for the cause also.


  35. I’m a recovering drug addict — I’ve been through hell on earth and finally found recovery in my 30s now for 7 years. It started with pot for me when I was 18. Don’t tell me that marijuana wasn’t a gateway drug for me.

  36. I am your typical marijuana addict.
    I have been smoking for forty years.
    I have been working at the same job for thirty-one years.
    I have been married to my wife for thirty- five years.
    I am hopelessly addicted and plan on staying that way.

  37. Stephen here again (recovering addict from a few posts ago)…

    There are many people who are habitual pot users that live out reasonably pleasant and stable lives. Many of my pot-using friends I smoked with in my late teens and twenties were fine (and are today) and could/can control their smoking before it causes undesired consequences. I’m not judging anyone.

    However, there are subset of people like me, where pot becomes a gateway to other drugs. I know my story. After experimenting with alcohol moderately, I know I never felt the same after finding the high of marijuana. After the first few highs, I wanted to escape toward the euphoria of being high more and more. Eventually, after smoking ever few hours of every day, my tolerance to pot became so established, other drugs followed.

    I’m not here to establish any position on the legality of pot. It being illegal didn’t stop me from using. My goal is to simply provide a real data point of experience in hopes it can benefit a few of the readers of this site.

    If a reader of this site is truly addicted and sincerely wants to stop using, I found the strength to do so in the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous (

  38. Yes. Just kids who for some reason the government thinks have something wrong with them because they want to try weed. How very naive.

    And this is the problem. Kids can get it.

    To stop kids getting it you have to think about the problem instead of going after it with guns and cops. And if you think about it the only way to stop your kids having access to it is to regulate it, and take the supply away from the criminal gangs. Leave it with them and there is NO chance.

    After all this time we must have learned that people will smoke it regardless.

    Your kids will continue to be able to buy it when they are at school unless someone deals with the problem intelligently.

  39. I think this is wonderful news that is essential in this current battle being fought across many states. As for Dave, who was the 7th and 8th post here, budder is a form oh butane honey oil (BHO), which is then slowly cooked until it becomes powder-y. Its is contains the strongest possible concentration of THC. For more links on BHO, goto:

  40. Just legalize it and get it over with. Hell, we toked up at HP all the friggin time. We had a contract employee who worked on servers that would take us to a hidden floor between floors and we’d spark a fattie. Adecco sucks.

  41. The local rehab clinic recently showed a video, and I took 3 pages worth of notes. 95% of the things the guy in the video said were straight up lies. Things like bringing up discredited studies, or making things up and using faulty logic, or only telling 1/2 the story. The fact that they used images of biopsy of Heath’s study on monkeys led me to put in my discharge summary. No way in hell will a mental health provider that claims that my brain looks like the brains of monkeys which have been asphysiated and exposed to huge amounts of carbon monoxide, ever write a prescription for psychoactive drugs for me. That is offensive, to say the very least. I consider it to be malpractice actually, and fraud to be honest. Either I or the insurance company pays $100 a session so if they are espousing discredited information and lies that is clearly fraud. Not to mention a racket. Clearly the court trusts this health care provider enough to require people to complete “treatement” there, and this provider lets both the patient and the court down, not a single other way to look at it. For the record, the video was shown while my normal group leader was out of country on church business, and the group is ordinarily really great. I have a really bad drinking problem, and have been voluntarily attending these sessions. That stops now. These fraudsters will never see another cent of my money.

  42. Q, they are just using outdated methods of treatment and taking your money for it. Try to research and seriously find a place that has been known to be a good program, with realistic expectations for its clients and realistic results. Depending on your age and where you live, there are options available for you. You could contact me on my blog to find out more info, just click my name. Glad to offer my help at any time 🙂

  43. Thanks for the offer, Eugene, your blog looks great. It probably really is better to offer constructive criticism, rather than getting angry about it. The group I was in really was helpful until they showed that video, it invited people to talk and share and that was the best part of it.

  44. Stephen, I hope you read this….
    “However, there are subset of people like me, where pot becomes a gateway to other drugs. I know my story. After experimenting with alcohol moderately, I know I never felt the same after finding the high of marijuana. After the first few highs, I wanted to escape toward the euphoria of being high more and more. Eventually, after smoking ever few hours of every day, my tolerance to pot became so established, other drugs followed.”

    Sounds to me like alcohol was your true gateway..
    Sorry to break that to you.

  45. If the system is the answer – the question was wrong.
    So called Marijuana Dependency Treatment Programs are effective training fascilities for the use of hard drugs. I think the mind-set of the ruling powers in the USA are not much different from what we experience here in Australia. Soft mood enhancing stimuly like Canabis is hunted down for economic reasons sine almost everyone could grow their own supply. Those who deal in hard drugs have a dependent clientel which keeps them in business – and we all know who the facilitators of the drug business are. Follow the money trail and you will find that many kingpins in the “Law” enforcement industry and their political backers have a self-interest in criminalising non adictive mood enhancing soft drugs.

  46. I was responding to david’s question few days previous. My first comment. I also meant Google. Not Booggle..whatever that might be. Greetings! I am a 4o year long smoker with Hep. C . If not for smoke i would be on some hideous drugs!!

  47. Good article Bruce! my first experience with Rehab was when I was young. I was offered that or face a judge. I chose that – the councilor in casually talking found out I play guitar – so did he- We both LOVED the Grateful Dead and that’s all we talked about. It was great. He cut me loose in 4 weeks (4 weeks early) and said I had no issues and the officer who just walked up to me at a local park and just stuck his hand in my pocket and pulled out a gram or so of weed was going against our Constitution! I swear that’s what happened. It’s just another way for the state to collect revenue. It’s useless.

  48. Anyone who has gotten drunk and had a hangover, and then later gets high, knows the instant he wakes up that marijuana is much better for you than alcohol. Or the cigarette addict who quits, and then gets high a few times a week instead, also knows MJ is much safer. And then we have studies from around the world that confirms this. I feel sorry for the people that believe the lies. If only they knew.

  49. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be at the net the easiest thing to keep in mind of.
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    people think about issues that they just don’t realize about.
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