Welcome to Marijuana Debunked, the blog
When I work with substance abusing patients, I operate under the belief that every substance abuser is happier clean and sober, and none of their rationalizations about why they should drink or use drugs are accurate. It’s just their disease speaking.
In the book Marijuana Debunked, I come to the conclusion that pro-legalization arguments work the same way. Arguments in favor of legalization are never accurate. I don’t know that for certain, but it sure seems that way. So I spend a lot of time looking at research and news reports to see how they are misleading us. Here’s my first example:
On July 30, Politico ran an article by James Higdon called “Congress’ Summer Fling With Marijuana.” It contained a factual inaccuracy that slants the story and misleads readers. I put certain words in bold to highlight them, but Higdon wrote:
“At the same time, a national debate about the high costs of sending millions of people—many of them young black and Hispanic men—to prison for nonviolent marijuana offenses has led to increasing questions about whether the zero-tolerance enforcement favored by DEA is the right way to proceed.”
There are two problems with his statement.
First, we are not sending millions of people to prison for marijuana offenses. What he said is just plain not true.
In 2005, Caulkins and Sevigny published a study in the journal Contemporary Drug Problems called, “How Many People Does The U.S. Imprison For Drug Use And Who Are They?”
They also concluded that about 5-7 percent of the drug crime convictions were for marijuana. Since just over 274,000 people were in prison for drug crimes the year they studied, 7 percent comes to about 20,000 people. How did Higdon turn that into millions?
Secondly, he used the vague term “nonviolent marijuana offenses.” When someone uses a vague, non-descript term, it’s often done to hide something. “Nonviolent marijuana offenses” could easily mean people whose only crime was to smoke marijuana, and maybe that’s what Higdon wanted people to believe.
Caulkins and Sevigny’s data show that about 90 percent of people in U.S. prisons for drug crimes were trafficking. Almost all these “nonviolent marijuana offenses” are drug dealing, not drug use. If these are drug dealers, Higdon should say so, and not use a vague term that would leave readers thinking they were just drug users.