Marijuana Becomes Focus of Drug War

 Marijuana Becomes Focus of Drug War 

Posted by CN Staff on May 03, 2005 at 19:28:41 PT
By Dan Eggen, Washington Post 
Source: Washington Post 

Washington, D.C. -- The focus of the drug war in the United States has shifted significantly over the past decade from hard drugs to marijuana, which now accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests nationwide, according to an analysis of federal crime statistics released Tuesday.The study of FBI data by a Washington-based think tank, the Sentencing Project, found that the proportion of heroin and cocaine cases plummeted from 55 percent of all drug arrests in 1992 to less than 30 percent 10 years later. During the same period, marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent of the total to 45 percent.
Coming in the wake of the focus on crack cocaine in the late 1980s, the increasing emphasis on marijuana enforcement was accompanied by a dramatic rise in overall drug arrests, from fewer than 1.1 million in 1990 to more than 1.5 million a decade later. Eighty percent of that increase came from marijuana arrests, the study found.  The rapid increase has not had a significant impact on prisons, however, because just 6 percent of the arrests resulted in felony convictions, the study found. The most widely quoted household survey on the topic has shown relatively little change in the overall rate of marijuana use over the same time period, experts said."In reality, the war on drugs as pursued in the 1990s was to a large degree a war on marijuana," said Ryan King, the study's co-author and a research associate at the Sentencing Project. "Marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance, but that doesn't explain this level of growth over time. ... The question is, is this really where we want to be spending all our money?"The think tank is a a left-leaning group that advocates alternatives to traditional imprisonment. Criminologists and government officials confirmed the trend, which in some ways marks a return to a previous era. In 1982, marijuana arrests accounted for 72 percent of all drug arrests, according to the study.Bush administration officials attribute the rise in marijuana arrests to a variety of factors: increased use among teen-agers during parts of the 1990s; efforts by local police departments to focus more on street-level offenses; and growing concerns over the danger posed by modern, more potent versions of marijuana. The White House Office of Drug Control Policy released a study Tuesday showing that youth who use marijuana are more likely to develop serious mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia."This is not Cheech and Chong marijuana," said David Murray, a policy analyst for the drug control office. "It's a qualitatively different drug, and that's reflected in the numbers."The new statistics come amid signs of a renewed debate in political circles over the efficacy of U.S. drug policies, which have received less attention recently amid historically low crime rates and a focus on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for example, has formed a national committee to oversee prosecution of violent drug gangs and has vowed to focus more resources on the fight against methamphetamine manufacturers and other drug traffickers.But increasingly, some experts have begun to argue that the U.S. drug war, which costs an estimated $35 billion a year, has had a minimal impact on consumption of illicit substances. The conservative American Enterprise Institute published a report in March, "Are We Losing the War on Drugs?," whose authors argue that, among other things, "criminal punishment of marijuana use does not appear to be justified."The study released Tuesday found that arrests for marijuana account for nearly all of the increase in drug arrests seen during the 1990s. The report also found that one in four people in state prisons for marijuana offenses can be classified as a "low-level offender," and estimates that $4 billion a year is spent on arresting and prosecuting marijuana crimes.In addition, the study showed that while African Americans comprise 14 percent of marijuana users generally, they account for nearly a third of all marijuana arrests.Among the most striking findings was the researchers' examination of arrest trends in New York City, which focused intently on "zero tolerance" policies during the administration of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Marijuana arrests in the city increased tenfold from 1990 to 2002, from 5,100 to more than 50,000, the report said. Nine of 10 of arrests in 2002 were for possession rather than dealing.The study also found a wide disparity in the growth of marijuana arrests in some of America's largest counties, from a 20 percent increase in San Diego to a 418 percent spike in King County, Wash. (The only decrease in the sample came in Fairfax County, Va., in suburban Washington, where marijuana arrests declined by 37 percent.)"There's been a major change in what's going on in drug enforcement, but it clearly isn't something that someone set out to do," said Jonathan Caulkins, a criminology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's not like anyone said, we don't care about cocaine and heroin anymore. ... The simple answer may be that police are now taking opportunities to make more marijuana arrests than they were when they were focused on crack cocaine in the 1980s." Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Dan Eggen, Washington PostPublished: Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page A01Copyright: 2005 Washington Post Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:The Sentencing Project Behind 45 Percent of U.S. Drug Arrests Marijuana Causes Mental Illness Sound New Warning About Marijuana Use

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Comment #12 posted by stoner spirit on May 04, 2005 at 15:08:14 PT:

Marijuana is good, the government is bad
Even though the government should govern, they will allways try to get more control over our lives, unless we take action on this. This dictatorship needs to get out of here. The hell with waiting, start the revolution now, not later. Revolt against the dictators!, that's easy to say but not to do. I hope the publick wakes up and realizes that soon, this might be alittle off but, you might not be able to do anything with your woman, unless the government tells you that you can reproduce.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 04, 2005 at 09:40:04 PT

Max Flowers 
Thank you for your comment. I sometimes just want to cry but I won't. Why do they want to control every aspect of our lives? The government should govern not dictate!
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Comment #10 posted by Max Flowers on May 04, 2005 at 09:32:44 PT

What a crock
I just watched about 10 minutes of the press conference with John Pee and the US shill from Scotland. What an incredible load of hype, speculation and utter BS it was.I have never heard so many "suggests", "indictates", "mays", "mights" etc in my life coming from people in "authority". It's so transparent. They posture and preach about the alleged "risks" and "dangers associated" with cannabis (and can prove nothing), yet they ignore the fact that alcohol and tobacco, which is facilitated and taxed by them, undeniably kills a given number of people every day like clockwork.If the safety and health of the population were truly what they are concerned about, they would be running around giving press conferences about the dangers (REAL, as proven by the body count---not imagined or interpreted) of alcohol and tobacco. But they don't, because health and safety is not really their agenda. Control and manipulation is their agenda.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 04, 2005 at 08:48:47 PT

C-Span 2
It's on now! Check it out!
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Comment #8 posted by boballen1313 on May 04, 2005 at 06:26:09 PT:

Maybe its real simple
Has anyone considered that the war on drugs was just practice for suppressing ordinary folks? All the early morning balaclava wearing door busting raids? Sound like a police state? 
I smoke a healing herb. It gives me comfort... John piss Walters and his ilk give no one comfort. I find no comfort in the mental "state" advocated as healthy by the drug czar. It would comfort me if John piss Walters were to seek some professional help for his own sickness.
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Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on May 04, 2005 at 05:00:53 PT

the only final solution
You should only do what you are told to do. Never act on your own. Wait for somebody to tell you when you can go to the bathroom. Wait for somebody to tell you when to go to bed. Wait for somebody to tell you when to eat. Wait for somebody to tell you when you can go to work. Wait for somebody to tell you what to read. Wait for somebody to tell you when you can go outside.When your master is done telling you what to do, wait for the next order.Never do anything else. You'll be happy as a clam.In the words of Bill Hicks, "Just a better world."
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on May 03, 2005 at 22:38:12 PT

Welcome to Cannabis News. We have a couple people here from Texas. I think we are gaining ground but I also am cautious because this is a really hard battle but we are determined!
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Comment #5 posted by mastercy on May 03, 2005 at 22:32:13 PT:

are things looking up
I have been a CNews reader for 5 years (conveniently after I got busted) and I must say, our side seems to be getting a lot more positive press these days. I never thought I'd see a decrim bill and medical bill down here in texas. Though they will probably not pass, its a start. And if Kinky Friedman gets elected Governor in 2006 the sky is the limit. I won't get my hopes up, but sometimes it feels like we're gaining ground, though we have a looooooooooong way to go.

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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 03, 2005 at 21:45:34 PT

Just a Note 
They changed the title on the Washington Post article. I can't change it on CNews' front page but I want others to see it too.New Title: Marijuana Becomes Focus of Drug WarLess Emphasis on Heroin and Cocaine
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on May 03, 2005 at 20:23:28 PT

Organized persecution.
We have been using cannabis for thousands of years.We are a culture.Government must stop persecuting Our culture.Now.Stop the organized persecution of cannabis and its users.Persecuting cannabis, persecutes Christ God Our Father.Persecuting cannabis, persecutes the truth.Stop.Cannabis prohibitionists should stop raping Christ God Our Father's children.Cannabis prohibitionist must stop doing the work of the devil.Arresting officers are agents of the devil; SWATSTIKA.The Green Collar Worker
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on May 03, 2005 at 20:19:36 PT

Conversely, if cannabis were re-legalized the arrest rate and thus the crime rate would be nearly cut in half. A win win situation to be sure. The Prohibitionists would be ticked off though, and try to come up with something else to annoy us with.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 03, 2005 at 19:30:35 PT

The War On Drugs
Finally the truth is becoming known to everyone! Marijuana is the war on drugs!
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