If Pot Is Legal, Everyone Will Use Meth

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A recent story on KJCT, the Grand Junction, Colorado, ABC affiliate (click on "Amendment 44 Legal Marijuana Conference"), shows that federal, state, and local drug warriors are working hard to defeat Colorado's marijuana legalization initiative. The Office of National Drug Control Policy dispatched Deputy Director Scott Burns to a press conference where he and other law enforcement officials urged voters to reject the measure. The report, which reminds me why I don't watch local news, is worth viewing in its entirety, so you don't miss the dramatizations of pot smoking and drug dealing the station inserted to illustrate the threat posed by the initiative. The spokesman for the initiative campaign, Mason Tvert, does a good job of responding to the drug warriors' allegations, but the slant of the story is obvious. The reporter closes with, "Until the November general elections, all we can do is wait and see whether Colorado will truly become the Mile High State." And yes, he emphasizes Mile instead of High, making the lame play on words even lamer. But you get the idea: If the initiative passes, everyone in Colorado will be stoned all the time.

My favorite moment is when Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger claims "I virtually never see a possession of marijuana case that doesn't also involve methamphetamine….I don't know about the 'gateway' stuff, but I know there's a link, because I see it every day, folks, and that troubles me greatly." Tvert replies that any link between marijuana and methamphetamine is largely a product of the black market. In truth, it's mainly a product of Hautzinger's imagination. Yes, some people who smoke pot also use methamphetamine. But contrary to Hautzinger's implication, the overlap is small. In the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 10 percent of respondents said they'd used marijuana in the previous year, compared to 0.5 percent who said they'd used meth. So at most, 5 percent of the pot smokers were also meth users.

[Thanks to NORML's Allen St. Pierre for the tip.]

NEXT: Drunken Power

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  1. In the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 10 percent of respondents said they’d used marijuana in the previous year, compared to 0.5 percent who said they’d used meth. So at most, 5 percent of the pot smokers were also meth users.

    Jacob, your ability to analyze numbers is all too rare among journalists.

  2. The only people happy about this are the “treatment” lobby, the jailer lobby and the wine & spirits lobby.

  3. Yes, because cigarettes and alcohol are legal, everyone is a piss-drunk chain-smoker.

    Please, people, get a clue…

  4. PS- I don’t follow you.

    I think the wine & spirits industry views recreational drugs as competition for their product. They must love the ONDCP.

  5. In the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 10 percent of respondents said they’d used marijuana in the previous year, compared to 0.5 percent who said they’d used meth. So at most, 5 percent of the pot smokers were also meth users.

    Jacob, your ability to analyze numbers is all too rare among journalists.

    Comment by: thoreau at October 13, 2006 04:32 PM

    maybe I’m having cranial flatulence, but could you explain how you got those numbers?

  6. cecil:

    I wasn’t responding to you, just questioning the assumption that marijuana legalization will cause a major increase in it’s abuse.

  7. I can accept a direct link between smoking pot and making meth; how else would you ever have the patience to sit there and open all those little cold capsules, one by one, and sort the little beads?

  8. Cool…it’s Friday. 30% of the last ten post headlines deal with drugs…50% of the posts were also interesting…so, at most 15% of the drug posts were interesting.

  9. I was on shockwave.com/gamelanding today to blow away some mutants and an ad offered a chance to play dodgeball, as the dodgee. Turns out that it’s impossible to even come close to winning since the ad was pitching the info that if you smoke pot you suck at dodging.

    Also recently I’ve been repeatedly assaulted by a really gross “Meth is the worst drug ever and kids are making it at home from cold pills” ad on TV.

    These guys really need to get a life.

    Jacob, your ability to analyze numbers is all too rare among journalists.

    Amen. I think every news organization should hire a statistician for bullshit detection.

    P.S. The worst drug ever is political power.

  10. I once went for 5 days without smoking weed.

  11. Cool…it’s Friday. 30% of the last ten post headlines deal with drugs…50% of the posts were also interesting…so, at most 15% of the drug posts were interesting.

    Duuude. Like, you must have meant that to read differently. Big number first, smaller number second. That was my skull! I’m so wasted!

  12. more than 10 percent of respondents said they’d used marijuana in the previous year, compared to 0.5 percent who said they’d used meth. So at most, 5 percent of the pot smokers were also meth users.

    by using the magical words “at most”, i believe he is correct.

    1000 people. 100 of them smoke pot. 5 of them do meth. at worst, all 5 also smoke pot, and 5 out of 100 is… 5%!

    -cab

  13. I virtually never see a case of masturbating to bestiality porn that doesn’t also involve marijuana. I know there’s a link, because I see it every day, folks!

  14. I virtually never see a case of masturbating to bestiality porn that doesn’t also involve marijuana. I know there’s a link, because I see it every day, folks!

  15. PS, I understand sir, I couldn’t agree with your observation any more than I already do.

  16. If there’s any association between meth and pot, it may simply be that some (many?) dealers deal both – since both are popular illegal drugs.

  17. Matthew, I think you nailed it. He has to be talking about people busted for trafficking and not merely possession. I don’t think I know of a single pothead who also does meth. (And yes, I have a wide sample from which to draw.)

  18. perhaps I’m being very dense, although I’m usually decent at math.

    if 10%, or 0.l0 of the population does pot
    and
    if 0.5% or 0.005 of the population has used meth in the last year
    then
    0.10 times 0.005 = 0.0005 of the population could have done both pot at meth in the last year

    0.0005 = 0.05%

    yes? do I need to take (or perhaps teach again) remedial math?

  19. I virtually never see a public servant that isn’t an unconscionable douchebag….I don’t know about the ‘gateway’ stuff, but I know there’s a link, because I see it every day, folks, and that troubles me greatly.

  20. Mathew Brown:

    I think your right, the connection between meth and pot is that they are both illegal drugs. Some dealers use and sell pot-only, but when they start using other drugs, like meth, they usually start selling them, too.

    Dank:

    The link you see is real, but if someone eventually finds meth, or smack, or crack to be their drug of choice they would have gotten there without first trying pot or booze, that’s the flaw in the gateway theory. Lots of people who do try soft drugs first stop at pot and liquor out of free choice, no one is compeled against their will to continue experimenting with the harder stuff.

  21. biologist,

    I don’t think you need to take remedial math, you just have to realize what these numbers really mean. Here are the facts:

    “In the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 10 percent of respondents said they’d used marijuana in the previous year, compared to 0.5 percent who said they’d used meth. So at most, 5 percent of the pot smokers were also meth users.”

    If the paragraph said 0.5% of pot smokers said they smoked meth, then your math would be correct. However, 0.5% referred to the total population, so multiplying the 10% and 0.5% together makes no sense. That would only apply if meth users were a subset of marijuana users and you wanted to know how large meth users were as a percent of the entire group. In this case we are given both groups as a percent of the total population.

    So, rather than multiply, you want to divide 0.005 (0.5%) by 0.10 (10%). Order matters on this, unlike multiplication, so make sure to perform the operation in this order. The result is 0.05 or 5%.

  22. I can accept a direct link between smoking pot and making meth; how else would you ever have the patience to sit there and open all those little cold capsules, one by one, and sort the little beads?

    Nah, that’s patently methhead behavior. Repetitive + compulsive = a happy tweaker. I can’t imagine any stoner with the initiative to perform such menial work on his own time.

  23. How come many of the same liberal wussies who want to lagalize pot want to ban guns? weird isnt it?

  24. Sullum’s evaluation is as silly as the DA’s implication based on the self-selected sample of arrestees, assuming that there’s no hyperbole involved. The NSDUH’s estimates are meant to apply to the whole nation, while we are talking about a county here. Meth use shows a lot more regional variation than MJ.

    The better but still faulty method would be to mine the latest NSDUH dataset (2004) and pose two queries:

    1)How many past-year pot users who were arrested for possession/sale were past year meth users? 17.6%

    2)How many past-year meth users who were arrested for possession/sale were past year pot users? 75.8%

    Once can’t ascertain which drug(s) they were arrested for, or the possession-only breakdown, or the Colorado substate rate that includes this county, but it’s better than Sullum’s estimate.

  25. The Nevada marijuana initiative is good because it is an attempt to “control and regulate” cannabis like alcohol.

    The one in Colorado is not good because it makes no attempt to control and regulate the substance. It merely “eliminates the penalty for small amounts”.

    When the marijuana laws were first inacted in the 1930s (when nobody used it) a person went to prison for possessing small amounts. Those penalties were in effect until the Nixon years.

    In 1962 there were 169 marijuana arrest’s nationwide. in 1970 there were 200,000.

    So back when some beatnik on the west coast, or a colored guy in Harlem went to prison for a couple of joints no one cared.

    But then suddenly it was the nice middle class white college kid (with long hair and bell bottoms) standing before the judge facing that prison sentence. Oh! Now the establishment (their parents) cared. So they lowered the penalties but kept it illegal.

    It was a big mistake to lower the penalties. Nixon should have locked up pot smoking brats like Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean. They should have got their punk asses whooped. They broke the law and got away with it. Then they grew up to become drug warriors.

    In 1920 congress passed the Volstead act (midemeanor charges for liquor violations). People weren’t obeying the law so in 1929 congress passed the Jones act (felony charges for liquor violations). Not only that, but if you were a “dry” and didn’t report a liquor violation you witnessed you faced a felony charge. The jails filled up and federal alcohol prohibition ended 4 years later.

    That’s what we need. We need a Jones law for drug violations. If our grandparents had come up with dim-witted ideas like “treatment instead of prison” we would still have the 18th amendment among us.

    We need to have drugs (not just marijuana) “contolled and regulated” like booze.

    Legalize or lock-em up !

  26. The Nevada marijuana initiative is good because it is an attempt to “control and regulate” cannabis like alcohol.

    The one in Colorado is not good because it makes no attempt to control and regulate the substance. It merely “eliminates the penalty for small amounts”.

    When the marijuana laws were first inacted in the 1930s (when nobody used it) a person went to prison for possessing small amounts. Those penalties were in effect until the Nixon years.

    In 1962 there were 169 marijuana arrest’s nationwide. in 1970 there were 200,000.

    So back when some beatnik on the west coast, or a black guy in Harlem went to prison for a couple of joints no one cared.

    But then suddenly it was the nice middle class white college kid (with long hair and bell bottoms) standing before the judge facing that prison sentence. Oh! Now the establishment (their parents) cared. So they lowered the penalties but kept it illegal.

    It was a big mistake to lower the penalties. Nixon should have locked up pot smoking brats like Al Gore, Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean. They should have got their butt’s whooped. They broke the law and got away with it. Then they grew up to become drug warriors.

    In 1920 congress passed the Volstead act (midemeanor charges for liquor violations). People weren’t obeying the law so in 1929 congress passed the Jones act (felony charges for liquor violations). Not only that, but if you were a “dry” and didn’t report a liquor violation you witnessed you faced a felony charge. The jails filled up and federal alcohol prohibition ended 4 years later.

    That’s what we need. We need a Jones law for drug violations. If our grandparents had come up with dim-witted ideas like “treatment instead of prison” we would still have the 18th amendment among us.

    We need to have drugs (not just marijuana) “contolled and regulated” like booze.

    Legalize or lock-em up !

  27. “Until the November general elections, all we can do is wait and see whether Colorado will truly become the Mile High State.” And yes, he emphasizes Mile instead of High, making the lame play on words even lamer.

    I’d walk a camel for a mile.

  28. drugs destroy lives and families…

    The war on drugs destroys more lives and more families then drugs do.

    Instead of putting ads near the munchies maybe normal should say that.

  29. Elliot Ness:

    You imply that the 1929 Jones act, which made liquor use and/or possession (you weren’t specific about this) a felony was instrumental in the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933 (21st Amendment). So you’re saying the American people were OK with 9 years of paying inflated prices and being treated like criminals and even being incarcerated for doing what EVERYONE was doing, but the Jones act was so draconian that in just four more years the Congress was compeled to repeal the 18th Amendment. Therefor, we should INCREASE the penalties for pot possession from misdemeanor to felony status, which will cause our oppressed citizenry to become so outraged that our legislatures will immediately act to legalize weed.

    Your suggestion is not very persuasive. Our elected officials are not reasonable men & women, they don’t readily respond to public outrage, and there is no way in hell they’ll increase drug penalties and then do an immediate about-face on “evil drugs” in response to public opinion.

    The whole drug prohibition thing was just a response to the repeal of alcohol prohibition. All the prohibitionists were faced with giving up their phoney-baloney jobs and getting real jobs. The government just transfered their authority from alcohol to drugs, notice the time-line; Prohibition repealed in 1933, serious drug prohibition laws enacted 1934-35(I don’t have the exact dates in front of me, but I’m close). Coincidence? Controlled and regulated = taxes, I don’t see the benefits for oppressed drug users, just the government. LEGALIZE IT!

  30. Congress did a much quicker about-face on catastrophic illness coverage for seniors 2 decades ago, repealing it before it took effect! (Because the tax for it fell on the same population to receive its benefits, rather than its constituting a transfer.) Our elected officials are much more reasonable & responsive than you think.

    But what would be the likeliest response to the perceived draconian consequences of making cannabis violations a felony? To reduce the penalties again, of course.

  31. Yo, I’m totally against drugs, setting aside the legal angle, but I wonder what message this was meant to convey.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ln3XMwcULy0

  32. Your comment about catastrophic illness coverage for seniors has backed me up a little. Your right, our elected officials are more reasonable & responsive than I thought. Everytime I step over the line around here, someone straightens me out. Be carefull what you say on Hit & Run, lots of educated people sitting there ready to pounce.

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