Marijuana Overview

After years of giggling at quaintly outdated marijuana scare stories like the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness," we've become almost conditioned to think that any warnings about the true dangers of marijuana are overblown. But marijuana is far from "harmless" -- it is pernicious.

-- U.S. Drug Czar John P. Walters, The Myth of 'Harmless' Marijuana, Washington Post, May 1, 2002, p.25

Trends in Marijuana Use

Initiation of Use (Age 12 and Older) Use Among Those Ages 19 to 28 Use Among College Students
Use Among 12th Grade Students Use Among 10th Grade Students Use Among 8th Grade Students
Cross Demographic Comparison (8th, 10th and 12th) Cross Demographic Comparison (12th, College, Ages 19 to 28) Use Trends Ages 12 and Older

Sources: National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Monitoring the Future Study

  • Reported marijuana use among those age 12 or older continues to rise. Four out of ten people older than 12 admit to having tried marijuana at least once.

  • The number of new marijuana users also continues to climb, and marijuana use is mostly initiated under the age of 18.

  • Reported marijuana use by college students seems to have plateaued since the late 1990's.

  • Marijuana usage rates among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students is reportedly lower.

Arrest, Eradication, Street Price, Consumption, and Seizure Data:

Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Reports
Office of National Drug Control Policy

  • Drug law violation arrests continue to rise, with marijuana accounting for the majority of drug law arrests. Over 88 percent of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession.

  • Eradication of marijuana plants continues to rise, reaching over 573 million plants in 2001 -- but 99 percent of such eradication is ditchweed.

  • Prices for marijuana continue to decline.

  • Surprisingly, the ONDCP claims that more marijuana is seized than is consumed. Shouldn't prices be getting higher?

Mortality, Emergency Department, and Drug Rehab Data:

Mortality Data Emergency Room
Drug Rehab

Sources: Centers For Disease Control
Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)
Treatment Episode Data Sets (TEDS)

  • Yes, there actually are people whose underlying cause of death is officially listed as being due directly to the use of cannabis.

  • Marijuana mentions in the emergency room continue to climb -- but marijuana is actually mentioned in only about one-tenth of one percent of all emergency room visits.

  • Despite it all, being arrested remains the greatest danger of using marijuana.

THC Content in Seized Samples:

Source: Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project

  • Marijuana and sinsemilla are on average getting stronger, but certainly not 10 or 20 times stronger. In any event, high potency cannabis products have always been available.

  • Most seized marijuana (and presumably most of the marijuana available for sale) is actually not very potent.

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