More on Marijuana and Crime: Crime Statistics

It was never our intention to take on marijuana as an issue. We stated in a post on society controlling itself (rather than the criminal justice system doing it) that we assumed that personal use of marijuana was going to be either decriminalized or legalized and that we hoped that society knows what it’s doing from a public health prospective.

We had comments stating that marijuana was not connected to crime or violent crime.

We said “oh really” and went on to cite research that marijuana is heavily connected to crime through arrest data. See http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/01/27/crime-news-time-to-legalize-marijuana/. There are other sources providing similar findings.

Now we have the data below from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at the Columbia University. See http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/Home.aspx?articleid=287&zoneid=32

Before we cite the data below, we have continuously stated that we do not advocate arrest for personal possession of marijuana; the criminal justice system is suffering from massive budget cuts and priorities lie elsewhere. See http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/02/17/budget-cuts-hurting-justice-system-crime-news/. But we do want a full and complete discussion of the public health implications of marijuana use.

We post our material on other blog services and the discussion on marijuana received well over 100 comments; some sophomoric and some serious. But it’s clear to us that those frequenting major blog directories that few in that demographic are taking the issue seriously. That’s unfortunate. They clearly see marijuana as a benign drug with no public health consequences.

New data:

From 1992 to 2006, the potency of marijuana increased by 175.0 percent.

Marijuana is associated more strongly with juvenile crime than alcohol use.

From 1992 to 2006, there has been a 492.1 percent increase in the proportion of treatment admissions for persons under age 18 where clinical diagnosis was reported for marijuana abuse or dependence.

From 1992 to 2006, there has been a 188.1 percent increase in the proportion of treatment admissions for persons under age 18 who cite marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

From 1995 to 2002, the percentage of drug related emergency department findings for marijuana as a major substance of abuse among 12- to 17-year olds increased by 136.4 percent.

Rates of daily marijuana use among 12th graders tripled from 1992 to 1999 and have stubbornly resisted significant change since then. In 2007, approximately 204,000 high school seniors (5.1 percent) used marijuana on a daily basis.

Despite recent declines in teen marijuana use, in 2007 the percentage of teens who had ever used marijuana was 26.8 percent higher among 8th graders, 44.9 percent higher among 10th graders and 28.2 percent higher among 12th graders.

Marijuana is the second most frequently detected psychoactive substance among drivers (alcohol is the first) and is associated with impaired driving skills.

Marijuana use interferes with brain functions and has been linked to other mental health problems in young people, such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorders.

Recent research suggests possible associations between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

The good news is that in recent years teen marijuana use and the percent of all teens who meet clinical criteria for marijuana abuse and dependence have declined.

The bad news is that 10.7 million teens still report that they have used marijuana.

Crime in America.Net

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Comments

  1. Gomez Addams says:

    If you aren’t citing your sources, your “facts” may as well be made up.

    Readers should just trust you? Why? Where can we learn more about these supposed facts you’ve cited?

    I ask this because I just came from a web site where the opposite views to yours are being promoted, but they cite their sources, and they come across sounding much more scientific and reasoned to any reader looking for information, and much less interested in sewing FUD, than you do here. Ooops!

    Editorials like this – which we have to assume are pure opinion, since you failed to back up any of your claims – do not help the anti-drug position!

  2. Chris McClain says:

    Why is it that the only statistics that you’re report shows in increase in negative “crime” on marijuana.. Where can I find information on burglary and Murder incidents pre-medical use?

  3. Joseph O'Dell says:

    You have got to be kidding me!! The crimes in this article are not the gory, macabre murders one reads about daily or sees on the evening news, and yet this article is trying to correlate the crime rate and marijuana usage!

  4. From 1992 to 2006, the potency of marijuana increased by 175.0 percent.

    HA! What a myth… actually it is just better growing standards and methods that have involved in better quality cannabis. And that percentage is just flat out WRONG even by the prohibitionist math. Average content of low quality imported cannabis has in fact not changed and is generally within the 1-2% range. Mid grade cannabis is around 3-5% and most high quality medical cannabis that is effective for those with serious medical ailments can rate up to 20%. From 2%-20% is not a 175% increase. Maybe I am doing my math wrong?

    Marijuana is associated more strongly with juvenile crime than alcohol use.

    This is a joke. Most of these crimes were because of cannabis criminalization in itself, a non-violent crime. Now make a fair comparison between violent youth crimes (rapes, assaults, etc) under the influence of alcohol. And all those minors that were unfairly put in juvenile centers for nothing more than consuming a natural plant had their reputations and futures destroyed from an unfair prohibition.

    From 1992 to 2006, there has been a 492.1 percent increase in the proportion of treatment admissions for persons under age 18 where clinical diagnosis was reported for marijuana abuse or dependence.

    This is because persons under the age of 18 have been forced to go to drug rehabilitation clinics when they are found using cannabis. Nice way of creating your own statistical data though I suppose.

    From 1992 to 2006, there has been a 188.1 percent increase in the proportion of treatment admissions for persons under age 18 who cite marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

    Maybe less of them are abusing alcohol, tobacco, meth, cocaine, amphetamines, and over-the-counter drugs? If this is the case, isn’t that a good thing? Nobody has ever died from cannabis, and you can’t even say the same for aspirin.

    From 1995 to 2002, the percentage of drug related emergency department findings for marijuana as a major substance of abuse among 12- to 17-year olds increased by 136.4 percent.

    I would like to know the actual number. And how many of these were due to the synthetic cannabinoid found in K2? How many were from cannabis itself and not other drugs along with cannabis, or the result of laced cannabis, which is also a result of prohibition?

    Rates of daily marijuana use among 12th graders tripled from 1992 to 1999 and have stubbornly resisted significant change since then. In 2007, approximately 204,000 high school seniors (5.1 percent) used marijuana on a daily basis.

    Wow, that is significantly less than the 75% of all students who try alcohol by 12th grade. High school binge drinking is at a nice fat 25%, which actually contributes to deaths every year unlike cannabis.

    Despite recent declines in teen marijuana use, in 2007 the percentage of teens who had ever used marijuana was 26.8 percent higher among 8th graders, 44.9 percent higher among 10th graders and 28.2 percent higher among 12th graders.

    Bla bla bla… compare these same statistics to that of alcohol or tobacco. Alcohol kills over 30,000 Americans every year, Tobacco kills over 140,000 a year… cannabis has NEVER killed anyone in documented history.

    Marijuana is the second most frequently detected psychoactive substance among drivers (alcohol is the first) and is associated with impaired driving skills.

    Marijuana use interferes with brain functions and has been linked to other mental health problems in young people, such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorders.

    Lets see the links to these one sided prohibitionist peer reviewed studies shall we? And then we can compare the information, yet again, to alcohol and tobacco.

    Recent research suggests possible associations between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

    WRONG. The data is inaccurate. Many people with psychological ailments gain relief for schizophrenia and other mental conditions through the use of cannabis. It has been proven effective relief, which is safer than the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat these conditions which can have life threatening side effects. Those with mental conditions who abuse alcohol are much more of a threat, as statistics again prove.

    The good news is that in recent years teen marijuana use and the percent of all teens who meet clinical criteria for marijuana abuse and dependence have declined.

    Because cannabis is less addictive than caffeine and has a lower potential for abuse than other substances.

    The bad news is that 10.7 million teens still report that they have used marijuana.

    Thankfully they used ‘marijuana’ and not something addictive like meth, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or prescription drugs that could lead to them having life long addictions and possibly dying or committing violent crimes to support their drug habits.

  5. do you think its easier for an underage to go into a store and buy alcohol or go up a drug dealer and a buy a gram of pot?
    how about reporting that anyone arrested for possession is given the option to go to jail or to attend rehab/ treatment? because if i am arrested i will go to “treatment”, who wouldn’t? these ppl become one of your “addicted” users. in which the withdrawals are nothing compared to alcohol or even tobacco.
    also how about reporting that marijuana stays in your system for about 30 days, loner than any other commonly abused drug. so if i smoke for a week but get arrested for murder in 3 weeks, marijuana will show up in my system and i become one of your examples. but coke, meth, heroin, pcp only stays in your system from a day to 7 days which make its harder to put the blame on.
    this article is terrible to anyone that understands argumentation.
    also know that i’m a physics major. my brain must be mush to take the SIMPLE math courses i take.

  6. I LOVE MARIJUANA<3

  7. this website sucks…marijuana is a good substance for when you are stressed…i dont reccommend to smoke it but its just my personal opinion…..i just think it should be legal because billions of americans use it and dont care about legal or illegal. if it was legal i think that more americans would like it better and less people would get arested…just dont drive while “intoxicated” because you WILL get caught…i am about to be 17 and i smoke marijuana and its sometimes laced and thats my personal opinion makes sense…i just dont reccommend people to smoke or drink or do any kind of drugs!!!!

  8. If you were to remove marijuana from the”lega’/ illegal” argument, which of the two, alcohol or marijuana, would contribute the least to such things as domestic violence, fatal car crashes, child abuse and social upheaval in general? I am not talking about the habitual user of either one, I am more interested in the occasional user and the social drinker/smoker, and as for medical benefits, which would be more detrimental to society?

    • Hi B. Thanks for writing. Easy question; alcohol is by far the worst “drug” as to crime and social ills. I assume that you will surmise that if alcohol is much worse, marijuana should be legalized. Do you really want to legally approve something else that will significantly add to social problems? Doesn’t make sense to us.
      Best, Adam.

      • Im not so much interested in legalizing marijuana as I am in trying to understand the logic behind our willingness to accept something that is so destructive,alcohol,as opposed to something that seems to be much less destructive. You can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting someone who hasn’t been hurt by alcohol in one way or another. It’s ok to stop by the bar on the way home from work, have a few drinks, then run over somebody in the crosswalk and get six months probation. I know, I’v seen it happen. I’v also seen a man with two marijuana joints go to prison for six years. We tried prohibition and that didn’t work, I believe it just created a whole new generation of criminals and set the ground rules for whats going on today in the drug wars.Maybe we should decriminalize marijuana and make room in our prisons for those who really need to be there. If you can buy alcohol at a gas station why not marijuana at a drug store?

        • Hi B. Right again. Alcohol is connected to a wide array of crimes and anti-social behavior. But alcohol is part of our social fabric. We tried a constitutional amendment to do away with alcohol and it failed miserably.
          As to marijuana, we have stated over and over that users should not be arrested and needless to say, they should not be incarcerated. But approval or legalization gives the green light to millions of people to use the drug and marijuana is associated with an endless number of social problems in this country. Granted, lots of people use marijuana without harming themselves or anyone else but lots of people have no business touching anything stronger than aspirin. Beyond alcohol, marijuana is the drug of choice among those arrested. Detox and treatment centers are filled with marijuana users. Buzzed drivers are taking a lot of lives on our highways.
          Knowing this, why do we want to add to the toll associated with alcohol? It seems to us that marijuana only makes things worse. It shouldn’t be encouraged through legalization.
          Thanks for writing. Adam.

  9. re:Marijuana use interferes with brain functions and has been linked to other mental health problems in young people, such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorders.

    I think this statistic needs a little clarification. When I see this stat I think that the reason marijuana use is linked to these disorders isn’t because it’s the cause but more that its the cure. You would most likely find that Viagra use is linked to people with ED. Most people with anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders(what ever that means, are you talking ADD or what) would most likely use Marijuana to calm their nerves or mellow them out. Research show that marijuana has these effects which are opposite of those disorders.

    • Hi. Thanks for writing. Please see the attached post on this site; “Marijuana admissions increased to 17 percent in 2008–Higher than any drug–Cocaine declines”.
      You may be right, but our question is what human action is not correlated with something else? All we know is that marijuana is turning up as a highly used drug in just about every survey on crime and treatment.
      Marijuana may be legalized (and we don’t want scarce criminal justice funds diverted for arrest and incarceration for personal use in the meantime) but it will be at a considerable price. As we have said multiple times on this site, there are a lot of people who should not touch anything stronger than baby aspirin–they just can’t handle it.
      The data supports our concerns but legalization advocates cannot bring themselves to admit the dangers. That’s a shame because a lot of people are going to return to marijuana use or try it for the first time when legalized; and a hell of a lot of people are going to get hurt in the process.
      We greatly appreciate your comments. CIA staff

  10. Dude, don’t; confuse me with facts…. That is tongue of course. It seems to me that many of the self admitted users posting on this board do not wish to accept the statistics that you post. Either that, or due to long term use of what is factually known to be a harmful substance, maybe they can not process the data. Nothing personal, just the facts Ma’am.

    • Hi: Thanks for writing. Funny post. What we find intriguing is the personal experience approach to the subject; getting high on pot makes me mellow thus all people who get high are mellow. Well, drinking makes me passive thus all research indicating the connection of alcohol to violent crime doesn’t apply–based on my own experience.
      Rock on man.
      CIA staff.

  11. I think most violence that can be related to Marijuana stems from the dealers and the people involved in distributing the illegal drug. You don’t often find cases of ‘high’ drivers mostly because even if you are high, you still are no where near the level of intoxication of a drunk driver… basically you could probably get away with driving high, though I don’t condone it, much easier than you can driving drunk.

    As far as public health goes, if people want to consider being more healthy, then it’s up to them to inform their kids and close friends. And to set the example as well! There’s no middle ground for compromise here because the pro-marijuana side has a valid argument: Either outlaw cigarettes and alcohol, or legalize and regulate marijuana. But picking and choosing which drugs are ok for society to consume does not seem fair at all in the context of Marijuana Vs. Tobacco Vs. Alcohol. I understand one has to draw the line and outlaw certain substances, but with these three it’s obvious unless you’ve never tried them all. Basically, it follows an equation like this:

    Tobacco <= Marijuana <= Alcohol

    Now if you don't think Marijuana <= Alcohol, consider how you would feel after 10 or so drinks compared to 10 or so Marijuana joints. Sure your throat might hurt from all the smoking, but compared to the drunk you look sober because you're not wobbling around while standing in place.

    Here are some interesting sites you may want to reference:
    Drug use Statistics in America
    Marijuana Statistics for each US county

    • Hi: Thanks for writing. Great points.
      We believe that society is close (according to public opinion polls) to approving personal possession of marijuana. Part of the approval process may be the points you articulate; if we approve alcohol and tobacco, why not marijuana?
      After a fair examination, American society may approve, but it’s the argument that “I use it with no personal consequences, thus it must be OK” that we object to.
      Per research, the bulk of drug addicts are drug addicts because they do not see the harm they do to themselves; the argument has to go further regardless of the legal presence of alcohol or tobacco.
      Let the discussion include the considerable of additional harm and money tax payers will be responsible for. Let’s have an honest discussion. Then if marijuana is approved, everyone knows the consequences.
      States allow motorcycle riders to ride without helmets, yet they know the public health consequences. Americans have approved (formally or informally) a wide array of issues and things that are harmful based on the personal rights of the user.
      But at the moment, it’s not a debate; we just don’t have the willingness to examine things as they are. Let’s have an honest discussion and let society decide.
      We will take a look at your links soon and discuss.
      We appreciate your opinions.
      Crime in America.Net staff.

  12. How many deaths have their been because of Marijuana Overdose?

    • Hi: Sorry, we do not know. We will research your question.
      Crime in America.Net staff.

      • No research required… It’s 0 ;)

        • Hi: Thanks for writing.

          In hindsight, we wish we hadn’t said it (even if true) simply because it detracts from the overall message, which is an examination of public health issues. The knee-jerk reaction is that we’ve watched “Reefer Madness” (an anti-marijuana film from the 1950’s) one too many times.

          But there are multiple sources stating that marijuana is part and partial to all forms of crime, including violent crime.

          OK, pot makes you passive and alcohol makes me passive. From that, do I deduce that alcohol has no connection to violent crime?

          As to public health impacts, please see http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/03/02/more-on-marijuana-and-crime-crime-statistics/.

          Just remember that marijuana can be and often is an addictive drug that can have a really negative impact on your life (something else that will seem counter-intuitive). If you can handle it without repercussions or harm to anyone else, fine. Just be careful; it’s backfired on a lot of people who believe that it’s harmless.

          We appreciate your opinions.

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