People in Prince George’s County know that federal and state law enforcement agencies are cracking down on drug use. There are stories in the news every day about people being arrested for having one kind of banned substance or another. Often times, that drug is marijuana. Even with all the arrests, the number of people smoking marijuana is rising, with 12.4 percent of eighth to 10th graders using marijuana.
In contrast are the declining rates of drinking and smoking among youth, substances that are not as heavily policed and are, ultimately, legal for a large portion of the population. The executive director of an organization that believes marijuana should be legalized notes that the criminalization and heavy enforcement of marijuana use has done nothing to reduce use. He has said that focusing on treatment is a better way of getting teenagers to stop using the drug.
It is not just alcohol and tobacco that teenagers and young adults have stopped using either. There have been declines in prescription drug abuse and cocaine within the country, as well. There were approximately 1 million fewer people using prescription pain pills in 2011 than the year before. Similarly, between 2006 and 2011, the number of regular cocaine users fell from 2.4 million to 1.4 million.
Despite these falling numbers, the federal and state governments don’t seem to be letting up in their campaigns to arrest and jail drug users. The harsh punishments, heavy arrest rates and the years in prison do little to curb drug abuse. Rather, as we’ve talked about earlier in this blog, alternative sentencing programs do more to stop people’s addictions.
Source: USA Today, “Prescription drug abuse drops among young people,” Donna Leinwand Leger, Sept. 25, 2012
Learn more about our work with prescription drug and marijuana charges by visiting our website.