Government Reports Massive Abuse of Treatment Resources, Tries to Shift Blame

The Drug Czar’s “blog” (where EVERY day is Tuesday!) reported today (Tuesday, March 4): “A Wake-Up Call: Admissions to Treatment for Marijuana use Increases Sharply”
The startling data:

Admission rates for primary marijuana increased nationally by 162 percent between 1992 and 2002

Their conclusion:

The report serves as a “wake-up call” for parents and young people who still view marijuana as a so-called “soft drug.”

The one little bitty problem is that there isn’t a single shred of evidence that supports their conclusion.
Fortunately, for a little better perspective, the Drug Czar touted this AP article, which had the integrity to get some proper perspective:

Advocates of legalizing marijuana disagreed, saying the trend was largely due to 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.

If treatment was actually needed for severe addiction based on marijuana use (which is contrary to all scientific data that shows marijuana only triggers mild dependency at most), then where is the data that shows that these people really are suffering from addiction problems (as opposed to just having marijuana listed on their intake form).
Well, SAMHSA spokesperson Leah Young had it all covered with this snappy comeback:

“Being forced into treatment does not indicate you don’t need it.”

Yeah, and being a spokesperson doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about.
The sad thing about this is that massive amounts of resources are going to “treat” tons of people with a mild dependency similar to, or lesser than, caffeine simply because they got caught with a joint.
Of course the treatment industry is having a ball. If marijuana treatment admissions increased 162%, so has their income. Since the treatment industry depends on marijuana admissions for its livelihood, any change in status would threaten their financial health. Legal marijuana would probably reduce their admissions by 50%.
This helps to explain why people like Andrea Barthwell and Peter Bensinger (two of the drug war pushers who have been opposing medical marijuana in Illinois) are so keen to block any change to the legal status of marijuana. They are financially tied to treatment and its related industries.
Andrea Barthwell has huge ties to the treatment industry, including her Encounter Medical Group, which has provided services to the Cook County Juvenile Drug Court Program since 1977.
Peter Bensinger (former DEA head), joined forces with fellow drug prohibitionist Robert DuPont and created Bensinger, Dupont & Associates. The company has provided a variety of services to business and government, including drug testing and substance abuse consulting. Their clients include U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Department of Transportation, they U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Illinois State Police. Their reported revenues in 2000 were $3,900,000. A 2003 report estimates sales at $28,900,000. Nice increase.
The drug czar cannot continue to spout these treatment statistics as if they support his position. Anything more than a surface reading raises more questions about the government’s relationship to monied interests than any real concerns about the dangers of marijuana.
Even on Tuesday.
Update: Just as a reminder, I’ve covered these statistic games by the Drug Czar before in detail. Treatment Statistics or, The Drug Czar is Lying to You. This is where you can dig into the details and find numbers that come at least a little bit closer to revealing the truth.
Example: Let’s take a look at how many are in treatment because they decide that they have a problem (This would also include cases where the parents or other family members decide the person has a problem and refers them to treatment). That would be a much more interesting figure. Well, only 16.6% of those in treatment for marijuana were self/family referred. 31.2% of those in treatment for alcohol were self/family referred, and 63.4% of those in treatment for heroin were self/family referred.
In total, of all people in treatment only 2.5% are self/family referred for marijuana use.

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