Drug Czar – fuzzy statistics, fuzzier conclusions, all in the name of job security (his)

The Drug Czar’s latest “report” on teens, drugs and violence is the usual mishmash of distorted statistics and implied conclusions not drawn from the data, all in an attempt to scare people.

Today ONDCP released a new Special Report showing that teens who use drugs are more likely to engage in violent and delinquent behavior and join gangs. Early use of marijuanaÖthe most commonly used drug among teensÖis a warning sign for later gang involvement.

Of course, when the Drug Czar brings out the big guns of the numbers to support his conclusions, it all sounds scary, unless you actually look at it. Now I haven’t even looked at any of the original data he’s drawing from, but check out this one that he promotes:

Nearly one in six teens (17%) who got into serious fights at school or work in the past year report using drugs;

However, if you look at the 2007 Monitoring the Future report, you see that the percentages of any teens who used drugs in the past year are: 8th grade (14.8%), 10th grade (28.7%), and 12th grade (36.5%). So to say that 17% of teens who got into serious fights report using drugs is not a particularly alarming thing. (In fact, it appears by these numbers that teens who use drugs are actually less likely to get into serious fights.)
But this is, of course, standard operating procedure for the Czar of Lying.
For more on how stupid this all is, see Scott Morgan’s excellent posts: Pete Gets off the Couch and Joins a Gang and Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Gang Membership, but the Drug War Does.

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