Archive | Marijuana RSS feed for this section

Marijuana Reform in the Trump Era: Turning Back the Tide

25 Feb

We have a lot of work to do.

First, this has to be said: I agree with Tom Angell that at the time of this writing (24 February 2017) we don’t yet really know what the administration’s marijuana policy is going to be.

I also agree with Shaleen Title. She advocates reading and analyzing everything available, from a variety of reputable sources, in order to get a clear idea of administration policy as it’s developing, and I agree. That is the absolute best thing anyone can do.

Mind you, the only way that people are going to get anything, let alone everything, to read and analyze, is if those of us who work as journalists at some level or other report on what’s actually being done and said, by whom, to whom, and in what context.

For instance, here’s some important reading material. These are the executive orders on crime that were issued by the White House on February Ninth. Anyone who cares about criminal justice, civil rights, or democracy and the rule of law, should read this. They are disappointing, upsetting, and guaranteed to anger any decent, moral person.

The language, and the policies outlined in those executive orders, are throwbacks to the late 60s, the era of John Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. Those orders outline a harsh approach to criminal justice and law enforcement overall as well as a renewed war on drugs, and display a contemptuous disregard for basic American values and freedoms.

For example, the task force on crime reduction and public safety that’s set up by one of those orders is to be run by Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions III. Sessions argued in the Judiciary Committee that some drug offenses should be considered violent crimes. He also believes that civil rights enforcement needlessly hampers the police and prevents them from doing their jobs. There’s a transcript that’s well worth a read, where Sessions is questioning – haranguing really – former DOJ official and ACLU hero Vanita Gupta at a Judiciary subcommittee hearing in Nov 2015. It’s at

The title of that hearing by the way was “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.” The whole hearing is worth a listen, if you have a strong stomach. The video is on the Judiciary Committee website.

While we’re on the topic of cabinet officials, one thing needs to be made perfectly clear: the appointments of hardline drug warrior and racist reactionary Sessions as Attorney General, and that of anti-pot and anti-harm reduction Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, are strong indicators of this administration’s future marijuana policies, and its drug policies overall.

It has been pointed out by some that the president can overrule his cabinet officials. That is true. Yet, people do not get chosen for cabinet positions because of their ability to reverse themselves politically. People get nominated for cabinet positions because of the policies they advocate.

It may be fun to mock Sessions or Price or DeVos and the rest. Some people do regard them as flakes spouting inane dreck just to hear themselves speak. However, because of the offices those people currently inhabit, they represent the administration in their designated areas of policy. They are absolutely seen as speaking for the government, not just themselves.

Ultimately though, we do need to look to the White House. We had nothing official from the new administration specifically about marijuana until recently. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about marijuana by a reporter during the regular White House news briefing on Thursday, Feb. 23. The official video of that brief exchange is at

and the transcript is at

Here’s what Spicer said:

“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. I think medical marijuana, I’ve said before that the President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them. And that’s one that Congress, through a rider in 2011 — looking for a little help — I think put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn’t be funded to go after those folks. There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana. And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature. So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a — the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana. That’s a very, very different subject.”

Spicer was asked a follow-up about whether the feds were going to “take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states”. He said this:

MR. SPICER: Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue. That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into.

Understandably, most reformers reacted negatively to Spicer’s statement. It is true, as someone pointed out, those are only the words of Sean Spicer, you know, the guy Melissa McCarthy parodied so well on SNL. The thing is, Spicer is the White House Press Secretary and Communications Director for the current president, and he spoke those words during the regular daily press briefing at the White House on Feb 23.

So yes, those are only the words of Sean Spicer. For just a minute though, forget those SNL bits, forget about your opinion of Spicer and his boss, and think about who Spicer is and what he does for a living. He now serves as the official voice of the current president and the White House. Spicer’s job gives particular weight to what he says.

Admittedly, it is possible that one day, maybe someday soon, Spicer will go back to that podium, declare previous statements to no longer be operative, and then say something totally different. In the meantime, however, we have to go by what he’s told us.

I’m not going bother parsing the specific words and phrases he used because he’s not the details guy. He’s a blunt instrument, he pushes the message, communicates the big picture. Specific details are someone else’s problem. Besides, any problematic and possibly offensive details could distract the media and the public from the big picture that he’s painting, so in a sense Spicer’s job is to keep people away from the details.

The only other person in the administration to say much of anything about marijuana was the current president himself, but that was on the campaign trail. People say all kinds of things to get elected. It’s what they do once they’re in office that counts. But it is true that he did say something about weed while he was running.

Unfortunately there are some fake stories that are still making the rounds on Facebook that make outlandish claims about endorsing legalization. Those are lies. Those lies add to the confusion over what he actually said, which is a problem because what he said was neither clear nor coherent. Here’s a transcript of what our current president actually said during that campaign rally in Nevada in Oct. 2015, when he was asked about pot:

DONALD TRUMP: “The marijuana thing is such a big, such a big thing. I think medical should happen, right, don’t we agree? I mean, I think so. And then I really believe you should leave it up to the states, it should be a state situation. Because, you know, you have, like I just left Colorado, and I love Colorado, and the people are great, but there’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know, that’s not going exactly trouble free, so, I really think that we should study Colorado, see what’s happening, but, I believe that the legalization of marijuana other than for medical, ’cause I think medical, you know, I know people that are very very sick, and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them. But, but, really helps them, but I think in terms of marijuana, I think, and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state.”

He’s a showman, and he’s good with a crowd. On this particular topic, which even he had to know would come up eventually, he blathered, obfuscated, avoided making any real commitment, and finally took the safest and limpest position he possibly could: “I think medical should happen, right, don’t we agree? I mean, I think so.”

He thinks so. Bless. He doesn’t know it for certain. People in his cabinet, like Sessions and Price, may help him to modify his thinking.

In August of 2016, candidate Trump was interviewed by Brandon Rittiman of KUSA-TV in Denver, Colorado, and the topic of marijuana came up. On the one hand, this time Trump didn’t ramble, used short declarative sentences. in some respects it was plain clear speaking. On the other hand, the then-candidate jumped in before any questions had actually been asked. Rittiman seemed to be setting up a question about Colorado’s marijuana law yet he was also setting up a second, much trickier, question about whether Chris Christie was in line to become Trump’s Attorney General. The transcript is at

Here’s the portion where weed is mentioned:

RITTIMAN: I want to drill down on a couple of Colorado issues.

Chris Christie was one of the first sort of establishment guys to really jump in with both feet for you. He gets talked about as a possible AG pick, but he was also the only presidential candidate who was campaigning saying he would use federal authority to shut down sales of recreational marijuana in states like Colorado.

TRUMP: Yeah, I wouldn’t do it, no.

RITTIMAN: You wouldn’t let him?


RITTIMAN: Even if you picked him as AG?

TRUMP: Well you’re asking me. I wouldn’t do that, no.

RITTIMAN: You think Colorado should be able to do what it’s doing.

TRUMP: I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.

We don’t yet know the specifics of the new administration’s policies in regard to marijuana, and possibly the president doesn’t either so at least we’re not alone. Yet, we do have a pretty good idea of the direction they want to go.

In terms of criminal justice and overall drug control policies, some very clear statements are being made. There are the executive orders issued February 9th, which I outlined at the top of this piece. And, there are the president’s own words. Unlike his comments about marijuana during the campaign, the current president has recently spoken very clearly and directly about those broader issues.

For example, in a speech given to a police group, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, in Feb 2017, he pushed for a return to the war on drugs. As Salon reported:

“We’re going to stop the drugs from pouring in,” Trump told law enforcement professionals of the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Wednesday. “We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice. And we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.”

That angry bit of bluster and demagoguery would have made Nixon proud. It’s not an embrace of harm reduction, or treatment, or efforts to address the root causes of societal problems. It’s literally a call to arms.

Also in February, the current president held a round table discussion with a delegation from the National Sheriffs Association. The president spoke to them – clearly and directly – about wanting to see tougher law enforcement, more action against drugs, particularly on the Mexican border, and more forfeiture.

It should also be noted that in the sheriffs roundtable, the current president also made a comment about expanding access to “abuse-deterring drugs,” which he described as very hard to get. At a guess, I’d say that is a reference to Naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Naloxone, or naltrexone, is sometimes added to prescription opioids to create what pharmas call an “abuse deterring formulation.”

Presumably he’s talking about continuing to support the expansion of naloxone availability, which the Obama administration had also done. I say presumably because I can’t be sure. I usually hear naloxone referred to as an overdose reversal drug or an overdose cure. I do hear it referred to as “abuse deterring” but only in the context of opiate manufacturing. That’s why I can’t be sure if he’s talking about access to the overdose reversal drug, or the production of abuse-deterring pain meds by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The new administration’s overall drug, civil rights, and criminal justice policies are taking shape. They appear to be horrible, reactionary, counterproductive, shortsighted, wrongheaded, and just plain bad. So what do we do? There’s no question that criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates need to get to work and organize politically against the current administration on these issues.

When it comes to marijuana specifically, reformers have a couple of choices. One is to stand back and do nothing, engage in watchful waiting, keep repeating a mantra about how politically popular weed is and how it would be suicide to crack down in the industry, and wait for a clearly written memo or some other solid, irrefutable statement of policy, like a strategy report, or a series of raids, or a threat to withhold federal funds from any state that decides to legally regulate any Schedule One drug.

There are a couple of problems with that wait and see approach. First, there’s the calendar. The current president doesn’t face re-election until 2020. He can afford a possible short-term hit on his popularity. Actually given the current president’s poll numbers, and his repeated attempts to paint critics as illegitimate and fake, “political suicide” is less than a joke, it’s certainly not a viable threat.

Members of Congress on the other hand are usually sensitive to that sort of thing. News hit recently that the current administration’s plans for a massive spending increase to fund infrastructure building and improvements around the nation – roads, airports, the kinds of big money projects that states and voters like and need – is being put off until 2018.

Of course it’s merely a coincidence that 2018 is also the next general election for all 435 members of the House and one third of the Senate, and it would be impertinent to suggest otherwise. So call me impertinent, I’ve been called worse. The point is, that’s some bargaining power the administration is planning to have.

As to the billions being made by the industry, that may sound impressive, yet it’s really not relevant in the political debate. Policymakers aren’t automatically going to care about whether a handful of investors and businesspeople make a greasy buck. Tax revenue is where the rubber quite literally meets the road, not corporate profits. A few questions about obscene profit margins and price gouging, maybe a couple of well-placed articles about any of the less-than-charming penny stock hustlers, weed oil scammers, touts, shills, shady foreign investors, and just plain con artists who have been finding their way into the corporate weed industry in the past few years, and a lot of people will be watching with glee as pot shops got raided.

So, watchful waiting is out.

Arguably, reformers could go to the other extreme and call for immediate nationwide protests, strikes, blockades of courthouses, and demonstrations at federal buildings and the White House, having decided that the current president plans to order an immediate crackdown on all adult use and possibly even some medical programs. That’s technically an option but it’s not really on the table right now, partly because we still just don’t know the administration’s real marijuana policy yet also because the public isn’t there yet.

Getting arrested at the White House can be an effective tactic, if the White House is having the Justice Department arrest people at dispensaries, but not when officials are still hemming and hawing.

Really there’s just one other option, and coincidentally it’s the approach I favor: educate, organize, prepare for the resistance that may be needed, and at the same time continue outreach in a bipartisan way to build more support for good medical marijuana programs and for adult use programs.

The support we say that marijuana legalization has, which some people say would make it political suicide to go against weed, needs to be built up, strengthened, and expanded. We need to do more public education, more consciousness raising, and more community building. We can’t afford to wait until after J Beauregard Sessions III authorizes a new memo.

A moment ago I dismissed the idea that the size of the marijuana market could convince the new administration to keep its tiny hands off of the weed business. Tax revenue on the other hand, the money flowing into state coffers from legally regulated weed, that’s a bottom line that policymakers care about. The impact that legal marijuana has had on prescribing practices for other drugs, the impact that legal marijuana availability has had on alcohol use – those are important too. Those things are important in the debate because they’re data people really do care about: life, death, and taxes.

Obviously, we need to spread the word about these things far and wide. More generally, we need to broaden the public’s understanding of both why legalization is a good thing, and why marijuana is not a bad thing. Inside the drug policy bubble, we understand all that. The majority of people live outside of our bubble. It’s our responsibility to reach out to them, teach them, and bring them over to our side.

The bottom line: J. Beauregard Sessions III is our new attorney general. Tom Price is head of HHS. Sean Spicer may be easy to mock but as far as I can tell he spews out the official administration line on stuff. The current administration is definitely planning for a renewed war on drugs, complete with border madness and military involvement.

We may not yet have a clearly written, definitive statement of administration policy on marijuana, yet waiting until Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III signs off on a new memo before we start preparing for the worst would be a mistake. It’s better to be prepared only to be able to stand down instead, than to be caught flat-footed and then get knocked down before we even start getting ready.

Again, I’m not suggesting that people should start getting arrested in front of federal buildings or the White House again in protest, not yet. When I do think it’s that time I will be one of the first in line to take a bust. I’ve done it before. It’s just that the public, and the movement, aren’t there quite yet.

I believe that the marijuana industry is facing potentially its biggest crisis ever. I know that the marijuana movement – the political and cultural force of which I am part, which made the industry possible — is facing a serious challenge. Yet, it’s a challenge which is also a huge organizing opportunity.

We have a lot to do. It’s time to get to work.

[Note: On Feb 25th I added a paragraph about comments regarding marijuana policy made by candidate Trump in August 2016, in an interview with Brandon Rittiman of KUSA-TV in Denver, Colorado, also a short quote and a link to the interview transcript. I also added Spicer’s response to a follow-up on the marijuana question, just below the first bit. DM]

Why the Legal Challenge to Colorado’s Adult-Use Marijuana Law Will Fail

6 Mar

A suit has been filed in federal court, by a handful of Colorado sheriffs among others, asking for Colorado’s legal adult-use program to be ended. There is one argument of significance:

The sheriffs, and some other prohibitionists, are asserting that when the state is put into the position of licensing and regulating activities that violate the CSA, they can be argued to be in violation of federal law.

That argument is not original, we’ve actually been hearing it mentioned in other parts of the country. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The counter-argument to the CSA concern has always been that there is a 10th amendment to the US constitution, which is a guarantee of states’ rights. Also these are intra-state concerns and not inter-state concerns, so the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution should prevent Congress from interfering with a state program. The two arguments together are quite powerful.

Unfortunately those arguments have been tried, and have failed, in the past. The Raich v Gonzalez case was decided by the Supremes back in 2005. A decade can be a long time in legal terms. We have a new court now, with new judges, and we have new attorneys who have the benefit of all the trial transcripts and motions and appeals histories. There are lawyers out there who have spent the past 10 years learning and studying and devising ways to win on those constitutional arguments.

And we’ve got a lot more than just that. When the Raich case first went to trial, we had very limited experience with regulated state medical marijuana programs. There were no state legal adult use programs. The justices and the attorneys on both sides had no data, no real world experience, on which to draw. They justified over-riding the commerce clause concerns because of the possibility that there might be public health or public safety concerns. And now, 10 years later, we have several states running regulated medical marijuana programs and the states of Washington and Colorado running legal adult-use marijuana programs. We have research and evidence showing that these programs have had a positive impact on public health, and a positive net impact on public safety.

This suit being brought against the state of Colorado by the sheriffs, it’s not an isolated thing. Prohibitionists around the world and around the nation are networked, they work together, they share information. I said before, I’ve heard some of these arguments recently. The state of Oregon is working to implement its own legal adult-use marijuana program. That state’s legislature is being lobbied by the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities to give local governments more power and authority to ban marijuana businesses and to impose local taxes. Officials from those organizations have made some not-so-subtle threats that if they don’t get their way, some city or county might file suit in federal court, using the same arguments about the CSA that the Colorado suit mentions, to try and stop the Oregon legal adult-use program.

Significantly, those Oregon attorneys conceded that it’s only the regulation and licensing of sale and commercial production that could be challenged that way, and that personal use possession and cultivation could not be challenged with that argument. But I digress.

Doing a little more research, it appears that these arguments were developed in earlier cases, in Michigan and also in Oregon. They’ve been refining and expanding on these arguments over the years, and they’ve been learning from their losses. The prohibitionists think that they know what they’re doing. They don’t seem to understand that our side has also spent the past decade working and learning and sharing information, and learning from our losses as well as our victories. And we’ve been researching and assessing these programs, and their impacts on public health and public safety, and so have the states running these programs.

The prohibitionists want a replay of Raich v Gonzalez. But they must not realize what they’re asking for. The justice who wrote that decision, John Paul Stevens, retired in 2010. Federalism is making a resurgence. The evidence on marijuana legalization is finally in and it is clear that legalization is a good thing on several levels, having positive impacts on public safety and public health. The train has left the station, the tracks are clear, and this time around there are no stops until we have reached our final destination: the end of prohibition.

Drug Policy Facts Podcast for 08-26-14: Research news plus the future of medical cannabis in WA.

26 Aug

This week: research on the impact of medical cannabis laws on opioid overdose deaths, and part two of our special coverage of Seattle Hempfest. It’s the drug policy facts podcast for August 26, 2014.

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #27 Available For Download

14 May

This week: Hemp seeds are going to Kentucky; the constitutionality of cannabis scheduling is going to federal court; urine testing in the cannabis industry is going nowhere, so far; and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program goes ahead with dispensaries. It’s the Drug Policy Facts podcast for May 13, 2014.

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #15 Is Online

19 Feb

The new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online!

This week: Oregon moves closer to putting marijuana on the 2014 ballot; the monitoring the future survey looks at drug use among today’s high school students; and members of Congress leading the efforts to end prohibition and reform U S drug policies. Download/listen/subscribe!

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #13 Is Online!

5 Feb
Let nations rejoice, the new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online!
This week features audio from a landmark hearing on Capitol Hill on federal marijuana policy, a report on the environmental impact of drug trafficking and transshipment, and a look at the lessons we can learn from the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Download, listen, and subscribe from:
#DrugWar #DrugFacts #DrugPolicy #DrugPolicyReform #mmot #HarmReduction

Drug War Facts Podcast #12 Is Online!

28 Jan

The new Drug War Facts Podcast is online! This week we speculate about tonight’s state of the union address, hear from US Attorney General Eric Holder about federal sentencing reform, learn how states are reducing their prison populations, and find out about sexual violence behind bars. Download, listen, and subscribe from:
The RSS feed to subscribe is
And the URL to listen to and download the new podcast, Ep #12, is

Drug War Facts Podcast #11 Is Online!

22 Jan

The new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online! Listen, download and subscribe from

This week’s show: Washington and Colorado reach the Super Bowl; President Obama admits marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol; NIDA’s drug facts week is Jan 27-Feb 2; and more Nixon White House tapes, this week discussing heroin and the creation of the first drug czar’s office, the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention.

Knowledge is power. Get the facts.

Drug War Facts Newsletter – Vol. 4, No. 1, Jan. 2014

8 Jan

What’s New At Drug War Facts – Vol. 4, No. 1, January 2014

Issue In Focus

The new Monitoring the Future Survey results for 2013 were released recently.

In discussing the new data in a video released on YouTube, Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said this: “If we compare the numbers that were, for example, in 2000 regular users, and now in 2013, we have seen increases in those numbers. But in 2000, at the 2000 level of 9 THC was at least half of the levels that we observe now, at least half. So that means that not just were there less kids taking the drug regularly, but even those that were taking it regularly were taking a much less potent drug.”

It almost sounded like she was asserting that THC levels have doubled but that’s not what she said. She did definitely assert that in 2000, cannabis was much less potent.

The short version of this report is, she was wrong. This isn’t just some political hack, or an uninformed blogger. She’s the director of the government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, she’s supposed to be the government’s science person on drugs. That’s not acceptable.

Let’s look at what’s known. These data are available through, in the marijuana section, where you can find a table of average THC levels of seized samples of cannabis as reported by the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project.

These are the only data on this, they’re the same data Nora Volkow has. The Project stopped testing domestic samples a few years ago, the last domestic cannabis data are from 2010. Samples of non-domestic cannabis – imports from Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, and so many other countries – continue to be tested, but only preliminary data for 2012 are currently available.

Average THC potencies are given for two grades of cannabis: low-end commercial grade – what they call simply “marijuana” – and high-end sinsemilla-type cannabis. The overall combined average they report includes a few samples of ditchweed, so we’ll stick with specific data for “marijuana” and “sinsemilla”, and since 2010 is the last year with domestic data, we’ll use it for comparison.

In 2000, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 5.10% THC. The non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.87%. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 3.96% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.72%.

In 2010, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 6.69% THC. Non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.81% THC. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 2.79% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 11.84%.

So only one category shows an increase in average potency from 2000 to 2010 is for non-domestic commercial grade cannabis – an increase of 31%, going from 5.1 to 6.69% THC. The others all show decreases, in fact the average THC of domestic commercial grade dropped by 29.5%.

There are fluctuations: In 2011, the average THC in non-domestic commercial marijuana was down to 5.6%, the average for non-domestic sinsemilla type was 13.47%. They stopped testing domestic samples in 2010, remember, and for what it’s worth those numbers were much lower in 2009, when domestic commercial averaged 2.43% THC and domestic sinsemilla type averaged only 7.37%.

So, Nora Volkow’s statement? Maybe not a flatout lie, but inaccurate and misleading at best. The point is, don’t just trust authority. Always question, always check, and the fact-checker’s best friend is Drug War Facts. Eventually, hopefully, we’ll get complete potency data for 2012, and when that’s available, you’ll find it at

Help Spread the Word!

Check out the new Drug Policy Facts podcast! You can download and subscribe from

Follow us on Twitter! Drug War Facts is @DrugPolicyFacts – follow us for information and breaking news about drugs and drug control policies.

Give us a “Like” on Facebook! The Drug War Facts page is at

Put a Drug War Facts banner on your blog or website! DWF banners and graphics are available at
More graphics will be available soon, including data tables from the pages of DWF!

Notable New Facts

(Drug Offenders in US Prisons 2012)
Federal: On Dec. 31, 2012, there were 196,574 sentenced prisoners under federal jurisdiction. Of these, 99,426 were serving time for drug offenses, 11,688 for violent offenses, 11,568 for property offenses, and 72,519 for “public order” offenses (of which 23,700 were sentenced for immigration offenses, 30,046 for weapons offenses, and 17,633 for “other”).

State: On Dec. 31, 2011, there were 1,341,797 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction. Of these, 222,738 were serving time for drug offenses, of whom 55,013 were merely convicted for possession. There were also 717,861 serving time for violent offenses, 249,574 for property offenses, 142,230 for “public order” offenses (which include weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses), and 9,392 for “other/unspecified”.
Source: E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.

(US Population Under Community Supervision Declining) “During 2012, the number of adults under community supervision declined for the fourth consecutive year. At yearend 2012, an estimated 4,781,300 adults were under community supervision, down 40,500 offenders from the beginning of the year (figure 1). About 1 in 50 adults in the United States was under community supervision at yearend 2012. The community supervision population includes adults on probation, parole, or any other post-prison supervision. (See BJS definition of probation and parole.)
“The decline in the total number of adults under community supervision is attributed to the drop in the probation population as probationers accounted for the majority (82%) of adults under community supervision. The decline of 38,300 offenders in the probation population (from an estimated 3,981,000 to 3,942,800) accounted for about 95% of the decline in the overall community supervision population. The parole population declined by about 500 offenders during 2012, falling from an estimated 851,700 to 851,200.”
Source: Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.

“Any Illicit Drug. The index of any illicit drug use tends to be driven by marijuana, which is by far the most prevalent of the many illicitly used drugs. In 2013, the proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are 15 percent, 32 percent, and 40 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively—higher than a year ago by 1.5, 1.6 and 0.6 percentage points for the same grades (only the change at 8th grade is statistically significant). For the three grades combined, the rate is up by 1.3 percentage points, also a statistically significant increase. The percentages indicating any use in their lifetime are 20 percent, 39 percent and 50 percent. In other words, half of America’s high school seniors have tried an illicit drug by the time they graduate and four in 10 have used it in just the past year.
“But it should also be noted that fully half of today’s seniors have not tried an illicit drug by the end of high school,” said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study.
Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 18, 2013). “American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, p. 2.

“Originally approved for use in the treatment of opioid dependence by the United States Food and Drug administration (FDA) in 1984, naltrexone is a competitive μ-opioid receptor antagonist with negligible agonist effects, blocking euphoric and physiological effects of opioid agonists.11,12 Naltrexone does not cause the development of dependence or tolerance over time, and dosing cessation does not result in withdrawal.13
“Orally dosed naltrexone is subject to first pass metabolism, where it is converted to active (6-β naltrexol) and inactive metabolites.14 ­First-pass metabolism of orally dosed naltrexone is high, evidenced by the peak dose of naltrexone and its ­metabolites 1 hour after oral dosing.15 Serum ­half-life for chronic oral administration is approximately 10 hours.15 The half-life, when compared to naloxone, another μ-opioid antagonist, is longer, and naltrexone is able to block the agonist effects of other opioids for 48 hours.16 Oral dosing is accomplished by either 50 mg daily dosing or three times weekly dosing with two 100 mg doses and one 150 mg dose.”
Source: Kjome, Kimberly L. and Moeller, F. Gerard, “Long-Acting Injectable Naltrexone for the Management of Patients with Opioid Dependence,” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment 2011:5 1–9, doi: 10.4137/SART.S5452.

Notable New Sources

E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.

Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 18, 2013). “American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, p. 2.

Kjome, Kimberly L. and Moeller, F. Gerard, “Long-Acting Injectable Naltrexone for the Management of Patients with Opioid Dependence,” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment 2011:5 1–9, doi: 10.4137/SART.S5452.

Walmsley, Roy, “World Prison Population List (Tenth Edition)” (Kings College, London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013), p. 1.


Check out the new Drug Policy Facts podcast! You can download and subscribe from

Drug Truth Network Radio segments:
Full half-hour news programs:
Century Of Lies, 12/15/13, White House drug policy conference
3-minute news segments:
420 News, 12/1/13, Interviews with Ethan Nadelmann and Neill Franklin:
420 News, 12/7/13, MDMA, Emergency Room Visits, and Young People:
420 News, 12/27/13, New Monitoring the Future survey
420 News, 12/30/13, Correcting NIDA Director Nora Volkow

Doug McVay is also a regular blogger at CelebStoner dot com.

– See more at:

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #9 Is Online!

8 Jan
The new Drug War/Drug Policy Facts podcast is dedicated to the 55,014 people now in state prison serving time for drug possession. This week: a new prisoner report; survey shows majority support for marijuana legalization; Playing Safe(ly) with Eddie Einbinder; harm reduction & drug user organizing with Ruth Kanatser; and talking weed with Mickey Martin. Download and subscribe from
%d bloggers like this: