Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2007
Source: Progressive, The (US)
Copyright: 2007 The Progressive
Author: Bruce Mirken


I hope you can pass this along to Luis Rodriguez, who - in making a
sensible argument in favor of treatment instead of jails for addicts -
repeats the drug warriors' mistake of conflating drug use with
addiction ("Paths out of Addiction," June issue). He writes, "This
country is a highly addicted one. An estimated 19.1 million people
over the age of twelve in the United States were illegal drug users in
2004, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health."

The figure he cites refers to anyone who used any illicit drug at
least once in the past month. The vast majority of these people are
not addicts. For example, about 14 million out of that 19 million
figure only used marijuana, but only 3.1 million of these were "daily
users" (defined as having used marijuana at least 300 days in the past
year). But even a daily user is not necessarily an addict. Is a person
who has one glass of wine with dinner each night an alcoholic? Of course not.

Millions and millions of Americans use marijuana in a responsible and
nondependent manner. We trivialize the real problem of addiction when
we fall into the drug warriors' trap of labeling all use as abuse and
treating these responsible, mentally and physically healthy
individuals as addicts because their choice of mood-altering
substances is not government-approved.

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
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