Naked City

Weed Watch: marijuana use on the rise?

Although federal spending directed at marijuana prohibition has increased, marijuana use has not declined, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute. According to the report, during the Nineties marijuana use went up 22%, despite a 127% increase in marijuana-related arrests. In 2003, police arrested about 755,000 people for marijuana – meaning that arrests for marijuana violations constituted more than half of all drug arrests in most states, the JPI reports.

"Despite billions in new spending and hundreds of thousands of new arrests, marijuana use seems unaffected by the huge criminal justice response to the drug," JPI Executive Director Jason Ziedenberg, co-author of the report, told the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "As law enforcement focuses on marijuana, a significant number of people are suffering from the impact of policies that do not seem to be deterring drug use." In 2003, Texas law enforcers made marijuana arrests at a rate of 222 per 100,000 people, reports JPI, while current marijuana use in Texas (that is, use in the past 30 days) stands at a rate of 3,751 per 100,000 people (or, an estimated 829,000 individuals). In 2003 – the most recent year for which complete statistics are available – marijuana arrests accounted for 56% of all Texas drug arrests, and there are currently 1,215 people in Texas prisons for marijuana violations, JPI reports. (To read the report, go to www.justicepolicy.org.)

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

War on Drugs, NORML, Justice Policy Institute, Weed Watch, marijuana, Jason Ziedenberg

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