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Distortion 1: Drug Use After Prohibition Ends

Distortion 2: Drug Use Estimates

Distortion 3: Needle Exchange

Distortion 4: Harm Reduction

Distortion 5: Methadone Treatment

Distortion 6: Emergency Room Visits

Distortion 7: Gateway

Distortion 8: Ecstasy

Distortion 9: Cannabis As Medicine

Distortion10: Young People and Drugs

Distortion 11: Marijuana Potency

Distortion 12: Cannabis and Driving

Distortion 13: US Crime Rates

Distortion 14: Cannabis and Drug Treatment

Distortion 15: People Only Smoke Pot To Get High, Whereas They Drink Alcohol To Be Sociable

Distortion 16: ONDCP's 'Open Letter on Marijuana' & the AntiDrug Media Campaign

Distortion 17: Cannabis and Drug Treatment Part II

Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness

Special: NORML's Truth Report 2005, An Analysis & Response To The Drug Czar's Open Letter About Marijuana

Special: Debunking The Myths — Chronic Pain & Opiods, by Frank Fisher, MD

Distortion 19: Estimating the Size of the Illicit Drug Market

Distortion 20: Methamphetamines

Distortion 21: US Crime Rates & Arrest Rates

Distortion 22: Marijuana & Violence


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Distortion 1: Drug Use Post-Prohibition

Distortion 1: If drugs were legalized there would be an explosion of drug use.

Incorrect. The available research, as affirmed by a recent Federal analysis of drug policy, indicates there would be little if any increase in use.

From 1972 to 1978, eleven states decriminalized marijuana possession (covering one-third of the US population) and 33 other states reduced punishment to probation with record erased after six months to one year. Yet, after 1978 marijuana use steadily declined for over a decade. Decriminalization did not increase marijuana use.

[National Research Council, "Informing America’s Policy On Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001), pp. 192-193.]

The Netherlands decriminalized possession and allowed small scale sales of marijuana beginning in 1976. Yet, marijuana use in Holland is half the rate of use in the USA. It is also lower than the United Kingdom which had continued to treat possession as a crime. The UK is now moving toward decriminalization.

[Center for Drug Research, "Licit and Illicit Drug Use in The Netherlands 1997" (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands: CEDRO, 1999; Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, "Drug Policy in the Netherlands: Progress Report Sept. 1997-Sept. 1999 (The Hague, The Netherlands: Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Nov. 1999); US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 1998, 1999, and 2000 (Washington, DC: SAMHSA).

According to the Center for Drug Research in its report Licit and Illicit Drug Use in The Netherlands 1997, past-year cannabis use in The Netherlands is estimated at 4.5% for the entire population; past-month use is 2.5%. In the United States, according to NIDA’s National Household Survey on Drug Abuse for 2000, past-year cannabis use is 8.3% of the US population 12 and older, and past-month use is 4.8%.]

If there is an increase in the reported rate of drug use after the end of prohibition, it may be due to an increased willingness to admit to being a drug user. Currently, such an admission means admitting to breaking the law, which social scientists point out discourages honesty.

[National Research Council, "Informing America's Policy On Illegal Drugs" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001): "It is widely thought that nonresponse and inaccurate response may cause surveys such as the NHSDA and MTF to underestimate the prevalence of drug use in the surveyed populations (Caspar, 1992)." (p. 93)]

"Most cross-state comparisons in the United States (as well as in Australia; see McGeorge and Aitken, 1997) have found no significant differences in the prevalence of marijuana use in decriminalized and nondecriminalized states (e.g., Johnston et al., 1981; Single, 1989; DiNardo and Lemieux, 1992; Thies and Register, 1993). Even in the few studies that find an effect on prevalence, it is a weak one. For example, using pooled data from the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse for 1988, 1990 and 1991, Saffer and Chaloupka (1995) found that marijuana decriminalization increased past-year marijuana use by 6 to 7 percent and past-month use by 4 to 5 percent. Using Monitoring The Future survey data for 1982 and 1989, Chaloupka et al. (1998) estimated that decriminalizing marijuana in all states would raise the number of youths using marijuana in a given year by 4 to 5 percent compared with the number using it when marijuana use is criminalized in all states; however, they also found no relationship between decriminalization and past-month use or frequency of use."

Source: National Research Council, "Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001) pp. 192-193

According to the Center for Drug Research in its report Licit and Illicit Drug Use in The Netherlands 1997, past-year cannabis use in The Netherlands is estimated at 4.5% for the entire population; past-month use is 2.5%. In the United States, according to NIDA’s National Household Survey on Drug Abuse for 2000, past-year cannabis use is 8.3% of the US population 12 and older, and past-month use is 4.8%.

Sources: Center for Drug Research, "Licit and Illicit Drug Use in The Netherlands 1997" (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands: CEDRO, 1999; Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, "Drug Policy in the Netherlands: Progress Report Sept. 1997-Sept. 1999 (The Hague, The Netherlands: Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Nov. 1999); US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Summary of Findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (Washington, DC: SAMHSA).

"Still, several broad conclusions about misreporting have been drawn. At the most basic level, there appears to be consistent evidence that some respondents misreport their drug use behavior. More specifically, valid self-reporting of drug use appears to depend on the timing of the event and the social desirability of the drug. Recent use may be subject to higher rates of bias. Misreporting rates may be higher for stigmatized drugs, such as cocaine, than for marijuana. False negative reports seem to increase as drug use becomes increasingly stigmatized. The fraction of false negative reports appears to exceed the fraction of false positive reports, although these differences vary by cohorts. Finally, the validity rates can be affected by the data collection methodology. Surveys that can effectively ensure confidentiality and anonymity and that are conducted in noncoerced settings will tend to have relatively low misreporting rates." (NRC, "Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs," pp. 99-100)

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Updated: Wednesday, July 15, 2009   ~   Accessed: 60551 times