Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What's the DEAl?

Here's my response to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy's letter in the Washington Post. Tandy's original letter follows. Please take five minutes and send a short letter of your own.
To the Editor:

Karen Tandy, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, makes a misleading claim about teens, marijuana, and drug treatment in her March 29 letter to the Post ("A drug dealer's toll on Americans").

Ms. Tandy cherrypicks the statistic that more teens enter treatment for marijuana than for any other drug, but fails to mention that 54 percent of adolescents entering treatment for marijuana were coerced by the criminal justice system (citation below).

It turns out marijuana isn't the addictive substance the DEA wants to paint it as. The fact is, the greatest harm associated with marijuana is being arrested and sent to jail. Who wouldn't pick treatment over incarceration if given the choice?

Tom Angell, Campaigns Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
1623 Connecticut Ave NW; Suite 300
Washington, DC 20009
phone: (202) 293-4414
cell: (202) 557-4979
fax: (202) 293-8344
AIM: ThisIsTomAngell

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Source for stat: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. The DASIS report: Treatment referral sources for adolescent marijuana users. Rockville, MD. March 29, 2002. Online at:
And here's DEA Administrator Tandy's original letter:

A Drug Dealer's Toll on Americans

Wednesday, March 29, 2006; Page A18

Marc Emery, who distributed millions of marijuana seeds throughout the country, admits the accuracy of the Drug Enforcement Administration's charges against him, but he denies harming Americans ["High Crimes, or a Tokin' Figure?" Style, March 18].

Like all dealers, Mr. Emery turns a blind eye to marijuana's victims -- people like Victoria Rogers, a mother driving with her children when she was killed by a marijuana-intoxicated motorist.

Marijuana feeds thousands of addictions -- so many that more teenagers enter treatment for marijuana dependency than for all other drugs combined. Thousands of adolescents whose brains are still developing also suffer from depression, memory impairment and diminished judgment because of marijuana. Users destroy their lungs because marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco smoke.

That Mr. Emery sees no consequences of his actions does not change the fact that they destroy innocent American lives and that he should and will face legal consequences as a result.



Drug Enforcement Administration


Please take five minutes and send a letter of your own.


rachelrachel said...

54 percent of adolescents entering treatment for marijuana were coerced by the criminal justice system

And I'll bet a sizable chunk of the remaining 46% have been coerced by their parents.

daksya said...

Not a convincing response.

That can be read as meaning that half of those in treatment do belong there.

You need to highlight that only 1 out of 6 are referred by self or family. The rest are referred by institutions like schools, churches, or primarily the criminal justice system.

Pete Guither said...

Good point, Daksya.

Here are some useful breakdowns.

Also, for someone who wants to address this in a letter, in another speech, Karen talked about Victoria Rogers as having been killed by a driver high on a virtual drug cocktail of marijuana, cocaine, and opiates, not just marijuana. Actual news reports are very hard to find -- the accident involved three cars, and there were questions at the time of the accident as to who was driving the thunderbird that sideswiped a truck and then hit Victoria's car. This is the best example she has of marijuana causing death? Shows how weak her argument is.

daksya said...

Another thing..

Advertising a comparative analysis on treatment rates across different countries will help your case more. In the Netherlands, 2% of current pot users (past month ) are in treatment. Of these 2%, the primary problem for 50% is a drug other than pot, but pot's mentioned as a secondary or tertiary problem. 30% have pot as their main problem, but other drugs are involved as well, and 20% for just pot. In essence, 1% (~5,000) of past month pot users is the metric for comparision. By that standard, 146,000 should be in treatment, instead of 274,000.

The key problem here is that in relative terms, pot's a problem for very few people, but the absolute number is nontrivial.

Anonymous said...

I have used in the past to find lawyers in my area.

bones288 said...

The key thing here is that 'do you feel you should have the right to tell someone that they can't drink a beer'?

Despite that fact that more ppl have suffered and died directly as a result of the alcohol in beer.

If pot is less addictive/harmful than alcohol why should anyone tell anyone else that they shouldn't do it?

If you want to go to your garage and suck on a tailpipe for a while why shouldn't I let you? Do what you want to your own body and I'll worry about mine.