WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a press conference this morning, representatives from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the release of the latest results of the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As is their custom, the federal officials used the event -- and the survey itself -- as an opportunity to decry the use of marijuana in the United States.
“What we saw today was just more of the same stale old rhetoric and exaggerations about marijuana use. The analysis SAMHSA included with the National Survey on Drug Use and Health seeks to blame what they claim is a significant increase in teen marijuana use on relaxed perceptions of harm, caused by the ongoing discussion of marijuana reform, particularly medical marijuana.
They do not quantitatively support these claims, however, and we can see from this latest report that past-month marijuana use by 12-17 year olds has stayed the same for males and only increased by .1% in the past year for females,” said Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. “In addition, this report and other available data clearly show that in a majority of medical marijuana states, teen use rates actually decreased since the implementation of their medical marijuana programs.”
“On the other hand,” Fox continued, “we were encouraged by ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske’s (pictured) acknowledgement today that we cannot arrest our way out of our nation’s drug problem. But if that is the case, we must ask how he can justify the billions of dollars spent every year to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users, when that money could be better spent on proven harm reduction tools such as those highlighted by the Recovery Month program.”
SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde, when questioned as to why alcohol use rates had dropped so much more than other drugs, stated that a more comprehensive program of education and early intervention had been employed to combat alcohol abuse and that such programs had not been embraced for other drug use. Moments later, Marijuana Policy Project director of government relations Steve Fox asked Mr. Kerlikowske if such a program of regulation and education would be better than the current system of prohibition for marijuana. Director Kerlikowske replied that regulation of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs has not worked, so regulation of marijuana could not be expected to work either.
“Such contradictory statements from the people in charge of our national drug policies only go to show that our government officials are addicted to prohibition, do not think states are capable of determining their own drug policies, and are incapable of even correctly analyzing their own data,” said Morgan Fox.