Holiday News


Someone at Columbia University's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has a wry sense of humor, because they chose April 20 to release a report [PDF] (funded, by the way, by the Office of National Drug Control Policy) claiming that, as the press release puts it:

Children and teens are three times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for alcohol, and six times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for all other illegal drugs combined.

Which should be worrying news indeed: We've apparently persuaded parents that if they find little Johnny smoking a joint, the proper response is to dutifully freak out and ship him to rehab. If—as is at least as likely and more dangerous—he's drinking heavily, well… boys will be boys. Still, enough parents are apparently unable to work up the requisite level of high dudgeon at their cannabis consuming kids, so we've been subjected to a spate of ads aimed, not at convincing kids that it's bad to smoke pot, but at convincing parents that they should give a damn when their kids do. That, I suppose, should be heartening.

The report also finds (from the press release again):

emergency department mentions of the drug among 12- to 17-year olds jumped 48 percent since 1999. Especially troubling is the possibility that this rise in teen emergency department mentions is related to the increased potency of the drug.

Some obvious reactions here: (1) Pot got dramatically more potent between 1999 and 2004? Where? (No, really… where?) (2) Are emergency department "mentions" correlated in any interesting way with pot being a cause of the problem? (3) Is there any way to tell whether that's a function of more stoned people in the hospital, or more people at the hospital admitting to being stoned? Obvious questions, but also questions that would reduce the desired panic-inducing effect of the study.

Happy holidays, incidentally, to the significant contingent of Reason readers who are likely celebrating today.