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Drug Trade in Schools

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise: Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get (Press Release)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

DECEMBER 14, 2010

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise

Annual Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP director of communications: 202-905-2030, 443-927-6400 or [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased in 2010, with more American teenagers now using marijuana than cigarettes for the second year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while 19.2 had used cigarettes.

         “It’s really no surprise that more American teenagers are using marijuana and continue to say it’s easy to get. Our government has spent decades refusing to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren’t required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The continued decline in teen tobacco use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It’s time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives – to keep marijuana away from young people – and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the unfettered access to marijuana our broken laws have given teenagers.”  

         Since the survey’s inception, overwhelmingly numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2010 numbers, the use of alcohol – which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID – continued to decline among high school seniors.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit


If the Drug War Works, Why Did Teen Access to Marijuana Increase This Year?

Today, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a new study that perfectly demolishes one of the central myths underlying the war on drugs. The National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse shows that youth access to marijuana has increased significantly in the past year:

According to the report, half of the 16- and 17-year-olds surveyed said their peers use marijuana more than tobacco. More teens say it’s easier to acquire marijuana than beer. And there’s a 35% increase from last year in the number of teens who say they can buy marijuana within an hour and a 14% increase in the number of teens who say they can find it in a day. [MPP]

It almost speaks for itself. Nothing could more directly obliterate the false notion that the war on marijuana is reducing youth access. Just days ago, the drug czar stood on a California mountaintop proudly pronouncing the importance of marijuana eradication. He's bent over backwards to explain that reductions in youth marijuana use provide proof that the war on marijuana is working.

What then can be said about marijuana's ever-increasing availability to young people? Rather obviously, recent declines in youth marijuana use owe nothing to the brutal and controversial tactics the drug czar is duty-bound to defend. After another year of dead dogs, dead informants and dead cops, marijuana is more available to our children than ever before. If fewer of them are using, then that is because they don't feel like it, not because they don't know where to get any.

Of course, the drug war supporters at CASA must have realized how badly their data reflects on marijuana prohibition, so they cooked up one the most embarrassingly backwards statistics possible:

Teens who can obtain marijuana readily are more likely to use it. Forty-five percent of teens who say they can get marijuana in an hour or less have used the drug, compared to 10 percent of those teens who say it would take them a day to get it and less than one percent of teens who say they would be unable to get it.

Oh, mercy. Is it really necessary to explain that teens who smoke marijuana are more likely to know where to buy it? This is just a crime against the scientific method, a pathetic face-saving ruse to defend marijuana prohibition within a report that unintentionally – yet transparently -- humiliates the drug war status quo.

Today, the drug war's failure to keep drugs out of the hands of our young people has been revealed in stark, unambiguous terms. No, the debate won't end here, but it is moments like this that cause one drug warrior after another, after another to jump ship and admit that the whole thing is just a monumental travesty.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy Responds to the Arrests at San Diego State

Just watch the finesse with which SDSU's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy responded to the arrest of 75 of their classmates:

SDSU-SSDP President Randy Hencken's superb performance shows how effectively one can reframe the issue by choosing smart and appropriate talking points. There are many interesting, and truthful, drug policy reform arguments that would nonetheless have been poorly applied here. As the video shows, a disciplined and mature reaction from reformers resulted in positive press coverage.

There is another lesson here, however, that should not go unnoticed: the reform argument came off strong because we had people on the ground at San Diego State well before the DEA showed up to haul students away in handcuffs. SSDP is a growing presence on campuses throughout the nation and beyond. Each new chapter increases our chances of being organized and prepared when the next such opportunity presents itself.

If you're in school and you don’t have a chapter, go here now. Whether you're looking to organize events or just stay informed and make some friends, you'll find what you’re looking for. This is where the next generation of reformers is coming from.

Don't Use Text Messages to Advertise Your Cocaine Prices

When I heard today that 75 students at San Diego State University were arrested on drug charges, something didn't sound right. That's just a hell of a lot of people, and in light of the drug war's typically flimsy evidentiary standards, I leaned towards the assumption that more than half of them probably didn’t do a damned thing.

That may still be true, but after learning how reckless and cavalier these guys were, I'm less shocked by the outcome:

"Undercover agents purchased cocaine from fraternity members and confirmed that a hierarchy existed for the purpose of selling drugs for money," the DEA said.

A member of Theta Chi sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his "associates" would be unable to sell cocaine while they were in Las Vegas over one weekend, according to the DEA. The text promoted a cocaine "sale" and listed the reduced prices. [AP]

Um, had you ever heard of the drug war, you idiot? Why not advertise on Craigslist while you're at it.

Many will say they had it coming, but I sympathize nevertheless. The lure of the black market sucks these guys in like a whirlpool. It is precisely the sort of people who would behave this way that are drawn forcefully towards such activity, empowered by it, and ultimately destroyed by the state at tremendous expense to the taxpayer.

If someone responsible and accountable to the public were charged with distributing these substances to those determined to consume them, we wouldn't have conspicuous drug monopolies creating disorder on college campuses across America. We wouldn't have to pay for young people to be investigated and convicted, then sent away to a horrible place where taxpayers must buy their food and clothing and medical care and even fund their reintegration into society.

Look no further than the fact that college students are getting hauled out of college 75 at a time for drug violations to know that our drug policy isn't working at all.

Anti-Drug Researchers Claim That All High Schools are Either "Drug Infested" or "Drug Free"

Anti-drug activists are so desperate to infect society with their fears and anxieties that they routinely make up statistics designed to terrify parents and policy-makers. Such is the case with Joseph Califano of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) who announced today that 80% of high schools are "drug-infested."

Only a moment's inspection is required to discover that the people behind this research are insane. They begin by defining two types of schools:

Drug Infested: Schools at which the students surveyed had witnessed some form of drug activity

Drug Free: Schools at which the students surveyed had not witnessed drug activity

It is just so obvious that most schools are neither infested with, nor entirely free of drugs. Everything in this report is based on a false dichotomy that prevents any meaningful analysis. Califano argues that parents should remove their children from drug infested schools; a surprising declaration given that he puts 80% of schools in this category.

Jacob Sullum offers a typically superb refutation of the finer points of the study, but I want to emphasize one additional important point: the reason groups like CASA can do crazy things like claim that all schools are either drug infested or drug free is because the media never holds them accountable. The entire premise of this study is ridiculous on its face, and there is no excuse for the failure of the press to readily observe that something is wrong with this report.

Protecting children from drugs and other safety threats is an important discussion. Yet, this conversation goes nowhere when it is based on transparently nonsensical propaganda from hardcore anti-drug extremists. If Califano were correct that 4 out of 5 schools were really this dangerous, we'd already know about it.

It is also strange that Joseph Califano, who thinks the drug problem is worse than ever, advocates the continuation of the exact policies that got us here. He's a psycho, but he's right about one thing: something's got to change.

Marijuana Doesn't Cause Gang Membership, But the Drug War Does

ONDCP's effort to link marijuana with violence and gang membership is ironic for another important reason I failed to address in my previous post.

If there is one thing that overwhelmingly creates and sustains gang activity in the U.S. and around the world, it is the massive black market created by drug prohibition. Indeed, so long as recreational drugs are available exclusively from criminals, these organizations will continue to be empowered and sustained.

Interestingly, the study from which ONDCP draws its misleading link between early marijuana use and gang membership notes that it isn't just the use of marijuana, but also the availability of marijuana that indicates a heightened risk of gang activity.

In other words, the neighborhoods which are overrun with black market drug activity inevitably become recruitment camps for young people to become involved in the drug trade. Drug prohibition facilitates youth access to marijuana and other drugs by creating an economy in which they are welcome participants.

The idea that marijuana's pharmacological effects cause violence is patently absurd, but the revelation that many young people in America are sucked into a cycle of violence, drug use, and other crime should come as no surprise to any of us.

ONDCP has often pointed out that young people who reach adulthood without experimenting with drugs are less likely to develop problems with drug abuse. Yet nothing could better facilitate youth access and participation in the drug market than the anarchic system our communities must endure at their continued peril and which ONDCP so vigorously defends.

More than anything else, ONDCP's new report paints a vivid picture of how drug prohibition has failed us at every level, up to and including the corruption of the precious young lives this fraudulent war supposedly protects. If you don't believe me, just pull up a chair, wave your Drug War Flag, and gaze in horror as your worst fears about youth, drugs, and violence are reborn again and again before your eyes.