Rise in marijuana treatment a 'wake-up call,' US official says
March 9, 2005
Treatment rates for marijuana nearly tripled between 1992 and 2002, the government says, attributing the increase to greater use and potency.
"This report is a wake-up call for parents that marijuana is not a soft drug," said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It's a much bigger part of the addiction problem than is generally understood."
Advocates of legalizing marijuana disagreed, saying the trend was largely because of an increase in marijuana arrests and had almost nothing to do with more people seeking treatment because they thought their own health was at risk.
"They have the option of going into treatment for marijuana or going to jail," said Paul Armentano, senior policy analyst for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
FBI records show a substantial increase in marijuana-related arrests during the decade studied, from about 340,000 in 1992 to about 700,000 in 2002.
The study on treatment rates was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which estimated that 41 states had an increase in the number of people who sought treatment for marijuana use during the decade studied.
The estimates reflect the number of people who get help at a drug or alcohol treatment center, which can include clinics, hospitals or private doctor's offices, officials said.
Admissions declined in three states: Alaska, New Mexico and Massachusetts. Arizona, Mississippi and Kentucky had incomplete data from which to draw a conclusion.
The report said comparisons were difficult in four states — Ohio, Texas, West Virginia and Virginia — because of changes in the facilities that reported.
However, a map in the report showed Virginia as one of the states that had experienced an increase. SAMHSA official Deborah Trunzo could not explain the discrepancy.
Source: Associated Press, 04/03/2005
Back to News