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Marijuana:
It's Nowhere Near As Scary
As They Want Us To Believe


"The concern with marijuana is not born out of any culture-war mentality, but out of what the science tells us about the drugís effects.

And the science, though still evolving, is clear: marijuana use is harmful. It is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects.

We know that over 110,000 people who showed up voluntarily at treatment facilities in 2007 reported marijuana as their primary substance of abuse. Additionally, in 2008 marijuana was involved in 375,000 emergency visits nationwide.

Several studies have shown that marijuana dependence is real and causes harm. We know that more than 30 percent of past-year marijuana users age 18 and older are classified as dependent on the drug, and that the lifetime prevalence of marijuana dependence in the US population is higher than that for any other illicit drug. Those dependent on marijuana often show signs of withdrawal and compulsive behavior.

Traveling the country, Iíve often heard from local treatment specialists that marijuana dependence is as a major problem at call-in centers offering help for people using drugs."

-- Statement from ONDCP Director R. Gil Kerlikowske,
Why Marijuana Legalization Would Compromise Public Health and Public Safety,
Annotated Remarks, Delivered at the California Police Chiefs Association Conference,
March 4th, 2010 San Jose, CA, pp.7-8


People have been saying all sorts of things about the "dangers" of marijuana for a very long time. But the reality of the situation is nowhere near as dire as it is made to seem. Indeed, the government's own data show that 98 percent of past year marijuana users do not end up in the ER to "mention" that they use marijuana, and similarly, that only a small percentage of users end up in rehab (mostly referred through the legal system). And the potency issue can't be all that significant given that synthetic THC (marijuana's principle psychoactive agent) is available by prescription. If THC in natural marijuana is scary and dangerous (DEA Schedule I), it seems illogical that it can be obtained in near 100 percent strength as an FDA approved "safe and effective" medicine (DEA Schedule III). See for yourself: it's called Marinol. And why in the world would so many people try marijuana -- and keep using it -- if it were truly "dangerous?"

The data consistently show that marijuana is simply not that dangerous and over 100 million Americans already know that, because they've used it themselves. I put together a tri-fold brochure to capture the essence of this page -- I like to mail out copies of it in those postage paid envelopes we all get in our junk mail.


Percent of Past Year Marijuana Users:
YearArrested In Rehab "Mention" it in the ER Death Blamed on Use
1990 1.7 -- 0.08 0.0000053
1991 1.6 -- 0.09 0
1992 2.1 0.57 0.15 0.0000123
1993 2.2 0.64 0.16 0.0000057
1994 2.7 0.80 0.23 0.0000112
1995 3.3 0.96 0.25 0
1996 3.5 1.05 0.29 0.0000163
1997 3.6 1.02 0.33 0.0000051
1998 3.6 1.18 0.41 0.0000321
1999 3.7 1.22 0.46 0.0000262
2000 4.0 1.33 0.52 0.0000161
2001 3.4 1.21 0.52 0.0000143
2002 2.7 1.10 0.46 0.0000039
2003 3.0 1.17 0.63 0.0000079
2004 3.0 1.19 1.11 0.0000236
2005 3.1 1.15 1.10 0.0000039
2006 3.3 1.14 1.14 0.0000078
2007 3.5 1.15 1.23 --
2008 3.3 -- 1.45 --

Sources:
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
FBI Uniform Crime Reports (Crime in the US)
Treatment Episode Data Sets (TEDS)
Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Wonder)


Population and Overall Marijuana Use Data
Year Total Population Pop 12+ Past Year Users 12+ % of Pop 12+
1990 248,709,873 201,188,000 18,931,000 9.4
1991 252,177,000 202,859,000 18,067,000 8.9
1992 255,077,536 205,713,000 16,322,000 7.9
1993 257,783,004 207,199,000 17,510,000 8.5
1994 260,340,990 209,411,000 17,813,000 8.5
1995 262,755,270 211,532,000 17,755,000 8.4
1996 265,283,783 214,047,000 18,398,000 8.6
1997 267,636,061 216,206,000 19,446,000 9.0
1998 270,463,688 218,445,000 18,710,000 8.6
1999 272,690,813 221,123,000 19,102,000 8.6
2000 281,421,906 223,280,000 18,589,000 8.3
2001 285,317,559 225,636,000 21,086,000 9.3
2002 288,368,698 235,143,000 25,755,000 11.0
2003 290,809,777 237,682,000 25,231,000 10.6
2004 293,656,842 240,515,000 25,451,000 10.6
2005 296,410,404 243,220,000 25,375,000 10.4
2006 -- 246,022,000 25,378,000 10.3
2007 -- 247,845,000 25,085,000 10.1
2008 -- 249,815,000 25,768,000 10.3

Sources:
United States Census Bureau
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)


Possible Consequence of Marijuana Use: ED Visit or Drug Rehab
  Overall ED Visits Marijuana Mentions Drug Treatment Admissions
Year Number % of Total Pop. Drug Mentions Number % of Drug Mentions % of Past Year Users Total Marijuana % of Past Year Users
1990 82,323,000 33.1 635,460 15,706 2.5 0.08 -- -- --
1991 84,189,000 33.4 674,861 16,251 2.4 0.09 -- -- --
1992 85,944,000 33.7 751,731 23,997 3.2 0.15 1,560,311 92,414 0.57
1993 87,651,000 34.0 796,762 28,873 3.6 0.16 1,618,597 111,259 0.64
1994 89,697,000 34.5 900,317 40,183 4.5 0.23 1,671,039 142,707 0.80
1995 88,548,056 33.7 899,977 45,259 5.0 0.25 1,680,697 171,344 0.96
1996 91,189,270 34.4 906,078 53,770 5.9 0.29 1,643,731 192,918 1.05
1997 89,719,807 33.5 941,627 64,720 6.9 0.33 1,607,957 197,840 1.02
1998 89,682,719 33.2 981,286 76,842 7.8 0.41 1,712,268 220,173 1.18
1999 91,099,635 33.4 1,013,688 87,068 8.6 0.46 1,725,885 232,105 1.22
2000 96,163,379 34.2 1,098,915 96,426 8.8 0.52 1,770,028 249,687 1.33
2001 100,517,664 35.2 1,165,148 110,512 9.5 0.52 1,821,054 272,165 1.21
2002 102,809,601 35.7 1,209,938 119,472 9.9 0.46 1,936,711 294,196 1.10
2003 104,672,704 36.0 1,255,846 159,326 12.7 0.63 1,897,164 294,834 1.17
2004 105,978,433 36.1 1,282,067 281,619 22.0 1.11 1,885,930 300,792 1.19
2005 108,373,604 36.6 1,172,001 279,664 23.9 1.10 1,849,548 292,250 1.15
2006 -- -- 1,256,611 290,563 23.1 1.14 1,800,717 289,988 1.14
2007 -- -- 1,301,085 308,547 23.7 1.23 1,817,577 287,933 1.15
2008 -- -- 1,335,206 374,435 28.0 1.45 -- -- --

-- data is not available

Sources:
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)
Treatment Episode Data Sets (TEDS)

Notes:

  • The DAWN data collection system was modified beginning in 2003 to count all drug "related" visits regardless of whether or not the use of the drug was the cause of the visit. Thus the apparent "huge increase" in marijuana mentions is due to changes in how the visits are recorded -- not because of todays's modern "super-weed."

  • About 85 percent of such mentions involve those 18 or older.

  • Over 90 percent of all drug treatment admissions involve those 18 or older.


Possible Consequence of Marijuana Use: Dying
  Overall Deaths Marijuana as Underlying Cause of Death Compare To Deaths From:
Year Number % of Total Pop. Number % of All Deaths % of Past Year Users Pesticide Exposure Powered Household Appliances
1990 2,148,463 0.86 1 0.0000465 0.0000053 4 1
1991 2,169,518 0.86 0 0 0 8 7
1992 2,175,613 0.85 2 0.0000919 0.0000123 13 2
1993 2,268,553 0.88 1 0.0000441 0.0000057 7 3
1994 2,278,994 0.88 2 0.0000878 0.0000112 4 4
1995 2,312,132 0.88 0 0 0 5 5
1996 2,314,690 0.87 3 0.0001296 0.0000163 7 0
1997 2,314,245 0.86 1 0.0000432 0.0000051 2 0
1998 2,337,256 0.86 6 0.0002567 0.0000321 6 0
1999 2,391,399 0.88 5 0.0002091 0.0000262 12 6
2000 2,403,351 0.85 3 0.0001248 0.0000161 8 14
2001 2,416,425 0.85 3 0.0001241 0.0000143 7 13
2002 2,443,387 0.85 1 0.0000408 0.0000039 7 17
2003 2,448,288 0.84 2 0.0000816 0.0000079 3 11
2004 2,397,615 0.82 6 0.0002502 0.0000236 3 14
2005 2,448,017 0.82 1 0.0000408 0.0000039 7 11
2006 2,426,264 0.81 2 0.0000824 0.0000078 2 14
Grand Totals 34,822,565 -- 38 0.0001091 -- 105 97

Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC Wonder)
CDC WONDER On-line Database

Yes, marijuana has been blamed as the "underlying cause of death" for some people, but it certainly isn't very likely. Indeed, it is so unlikely that is difficult to find other causes of death to compare it to. Meanwhile, beware of bug spray and electric knives!


Possible Consequence of Marijuana Use: Being Arrested
  Drug Law Arrests Marijuana Arrests
Year Total Arrests Number % of Total Number % for Possession % of Total % of Drug Law % of Past Year Users
1990 14,195,100 1,089,500 7.7 326,900 80.0 2.3 30.0 1.7
1991 14,211,900 1,010,000 7.1 282,800 78.6 2.0 28.0 1.6
1992 14,075,100 1,066,400 7.6 341,200 78.1 2.4 32.0 2.1
1993 14,036,300 1,126,300 8.0 382,900 82.4 2.7 34.0 2.2
1994 14,648,700 1,351,400 9.2 486,500 83.3 3.3 36.0 2.7
1995 15,119,800 1,476,100 9.8 590,400 85.0 3.9 40.0 3.3
1996 15,168,100 1,506,200 9.9 647,700 86.0 4.3 43.0 3.5
1997 15,284,300 1,583,600 10.4 695,200 86.3 4.5 43.9 3.6
1998 14,528,300 1,559,100 10.7 682,900 88.6 4.7 43.8 3.6
1999 14,031,070 1,557,100 11.1 704,800 87.0 5.0 45.3 3.7
2000 13,980,297 1,579,566 11.3 734,498 88.0 5.3 46.5 4.0
2001 13,699,254 1,586,902 11.6 723,626 88.6 5.3 45.6 3.4
2002 13,741,438 1,538,813 11.2 697,082 88.1 5.1 45.3 2.7
2003 13,639,479 1,678,192 12.3 755,186 87.8 5.5 45.0 3.0
2004 14,004,327 1,745,712 12.5 771,605 88.7 5.5 44.2 3.0
2005 14,094,186 1,846,351 13.1 786,545 88.5 5.6 42.6 3.1
2006 14,380,370 1,889,810 13.1 829,627 89.1 5.8 43.9 3.3
2007 14,209,365 1,841,182 13.0 872,720 88.8 6.1 47.4 3.5
2008 14,005,615 1,702,537 12.2 847,863 89.0 6.1 49.8 3.3

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports (Crime in the US, Multiple Years)


"Now it is time to call a mistake by its rightful name. The criminal sanction was wrong 40 years ago, and it's still morally wrong to lock up only the handful that are unfortunate enough to get caught up in an utterly inadequate enforcement dragnet, while millions go on violating the same law every day.
...
Finally, it is scientifically wrong to hold a substance hostage to an anachronistic law simply because it is uncomfortable to admit we were wrong in the first place. The evidence out of New York is like evidence that came out of Kingston, Jamaica, last year and from California the year before. What it boils down to is this: As far as is now known, the most serious consequence of smoking marijuana is the danger of arrest.
"

"Zombies Revisited," Editorial in the Washington Post, Feb 13, 1976, p.A22


truth: the Anti-drugwar
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