Thursday, September 5, 2013

National survey shows marijuana use is up

SAMHSA Report: In 2012, 7.3 percent of Americans were current users of marijuana – up from 5.8 percent in 2007. 

Notes from the report: The rate of past month nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2012 was 5.3 percent – similar to rates in 2010 and 2011, but significantly lower than the rate from 2009 (6.4 percent), according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA issued its 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report in conjunction with the 24th annual national observance of National Recovery Month.

The SAMHSA report also found that the rates of past month drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking among underage adolescents aged 12 to 17 remained lower than their levels in 2002 and 2009. The percentage of people aged 12 and older who drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year in 2012 was 11.2 percent, significantly lower than the level in 2002 (14.2 percent) but similar to the rate in 2011 (11.1 percent).

Overall, the use of illicit drugs among Americans aged 12 and older remained stable since the last survey in 2011. The NSDUH report shows that 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users – (9.2 percent of the population 12 and older). 

Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2012, 7.3 percent of Americans were current users of marijuana – up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Although past month use of marijuana rose in nearly every age group between 2007 and 2012, it did drop among those aged 12 to 17 from 7.9 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent in 2012. 

In addition to marijuana, the use of heroin also rose significantly. The number of people aged 12 and older who used heroin in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 in 2012. 

The report showed some other areas of continued improvement including a drop in the rate of past month use of tobacco products among 12 to 17 year olds – from 15.2 percent in 2002, to 8.6 percent in 2012. Similarly between 2002 and 2012, the percentage of youth aged 12 to 17 with substance dependence or abuse declined from 8.9 percent to 6.1 percent.

The 2012 report also showed that many Americans needing treatment for a substance use disorder are still not receiving specialty treatment. According to the report 23.1 million Americans aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in 2012 and only 2.5 million (or 10.8 percent of those in need) received it in a specialized treatment setting.

NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is a primary source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the Nation.

*The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: 
Also see:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's time to talk weed... mark your calendar

By Regina Garson
Sighs of it is "about time" rippled through the country when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that the Committee would hold a hearing on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. The hearing is set for September 10. (Leahy, 2013)

The outcry against marijuana prohibition has been growing for years and getting increasingly louder as state after state has declared an end to the insanity, and what marijuana prohibition is doing to the people in this country.

As of this writing, twenty states have legalized marijuana for medical use. Washington and Colorado have also legalized it for personal use. Others have legislation pending. While only 12 states have voted the legislation down, the activists in those states have already regrouped and are working toward change ( 

In the meantime, Attorney General Eric Holder just made an announcement and a memo was released saying that his department would recognize the changes instate law when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. It was just a memo though, and not a change in law, so it is to be seen how it will all work out.

With 52% of the US population now favoring full legalization of marijuana (Pew Research Center), a growing majority of American citizens from every race, religion, political party, and career field, including medical and law enforcement professionals, all feel that it is time for change.

However, even as the states have passed legislation, mostly for medical use, the conflict has remained between state and federal law and the prosecutions continue.

A recent report by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) estimates that at least $180,000 has been spent per day during the Obama Administration just in targeting medical cannabis patients and dispensaries. In the last 17 years, the DEA conducted over 528 raids on sick and injured individuals and the organizations dispensing their cannabis medication; 270 of those were during the Obama administration. The Obama Administration has already spent nearly $300 million on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states alone. The Bush Administration spent $200 million total. (ASC Report)

Leahy pointed out what many already know: 
It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal... I believe that these state laws should be respected.  At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government. (Leahy, 2013)

Medical marijuana prosecution has continued despite assurances otherwise, and despite the damage to the lives of so many of our citizens. Marijuana prohibition laws have done more damage to more lives than marijuana ever has—in all of the recorded history of humankind.

Leahy has pressed the Obama administration to determine its enforcement policy in light of these state actions, including writing in December to the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) about the issue. Leahy has also asked what assurances the administration can give to state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers to ensure they will not face criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws. (Leahy's office, 2013)

The rapidly aging hippies and baby boomers have been working toward change for a long time. It brought a lot of hope to a lot of people when Dr Sanjay Gupta came out recently and took a stand as to these wrongs in his "Weed" documentary.

The thing is, there is not going to be any real change until we as a country have a serious conversation and make some changes in the laws. But way too often, it is considered a laughing matter. The stoner jokes are old and they are not funny. Marijuana prohibition has destroyed too many lives and done a whole lot of damage to a whole lot more people than much of anybody wants to admit, unless perhaps it was your loved-one who was somehow affected.

News of study after study confirming the medical benefits of cannabis have been trickling out for a while now. This is even as citizens gather to mourn the death of yet another loved-one, or to raise money to fund research to find cures for diseases, such as cancer, that have touched so many of our lives. But instead of our taxpayer dollars being spent to find real cures, they are being spent to fund the War on Drugs, to persecute our people, and to spend even more of our very limited dollars, in our already devastated economy to prove the harm of an herb, which may well hold the cure, and for which there is not a single case of known death—in the recorded history of humankind. And still the nonsense propaganda continues.

By now, most people in this country are well aware that the whole marijuana prohibition thing was a farce, a political maneuver to line some fat cat wallets. We are over it. Lining one's wallet is one thing, but the lives that have been destroyed both by our legal system and by hog tying our doctors and denying our citizens effective medical treatment is beyond the realm of civilized and moral consciousness.

Hell, yes, it is time for a conversation. 

Innocent children are being taken from good parents whose only crime was the use of a weed that grows wild in the field, only to see those children die of abuse in foster care. Good honorable citizens by anybody's standards have been sentenced to death when the courts ordered that they would not be allowed their cannabis medication, even when their lives depended on that medication. Call it what it is, a death sentence is a death sentence.

Whether it is because of an addiction, or a need for medical marijuana, we are locking up way too many seriously ill individuals. Is that what our justice system has turned into? We have all heard our esteemed politicians say they only go after the dealers, and the drug lords, but by the time they finish building their cases against these patients, they all sound like drug lord king pins. That is old news.

But it really hit home with the most recent fallout from the Snowden incident. They are using NSA information to build illegal cases, with illegally obtained information, which they pass on as tips to various law enforcement agencies, who then build/invent their supposed/alleged investigations. The other thing they are famous for is after they arrest these otherwise good citizens, who other than their drug use don't have a clue about anything criminal, so they get them in there, present the so called end results of these illegally fabricated investigations, that they never honestly tell them where it came from, although by law they are supposed to, and then they offer them a deal if they plead to lesser charges.

A whole lot of good people have to make some hard choices, frequently plead guilty to something they never did, and end up doing some hard time when they are pressured with the likelihood that they will get a whole lot stiffer sentence if they go to trial. The thing is, there never should have been a charge in the first place. And if it actually went to trial, they generally drop the charges because they don't want it to get out how these folks are honestly doing business. And these are your tax dollars at work.

You don't get to be the number one in anything without some effort. At least we have the number one prison population in the world. The US has been locking people up using these illegal investigations for a while. And that is just one more thing that is seriously wrong with marijuana prohibition and the War on our People (commonly called the War on Drugs).

The list goes on as to the wrongs. 
Another thing that is seriously out of control is that these investigators are going into our schools, as part of what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline, not honestly finding any drugs, or anybody in the wrong to arrest, so they are targeting individual students, and pressuring them, special needs students for example, making friends with students who may not have another friend in the school, convincing them to commit whatever drug related crime they can talk them into committing, and then arresting them for committing those crimes. Used to, we locked people up who went into the schools and preyed on, or otherwise did any kind of damage to our children, not us, we spend our hard earned taxpayer dollars to write them a paycheck.

For all kinds of reasons, these marijuana hearings Senator Leahy is leading are vitally important to many people and many lives. But at the end of the day, they are merely a conversation. It is however a conversation. The ball is in play. If you can't do anything else, keep the conversation going. It is way past time to end marijuana prohibition in this country.

Copyright 2013 Regina Garson

Welcome and About Grassroot Rag

Welcome to the Grassroot Rag. This blog is a need-to page for discussion of the various activist causes with which I have been and am involved. Although I will probably write most of the posts, I do not expect to write them all. I welcome submissions, and will publish other as appropriate.

A long time writer, editor, and activist, I have been involved with a range of issues from both the social and the hard sciences. I have devoted my efforts to a number of causes including the War on Drugs, marijuana prohibition, equality issues: race/diversity/women, labor and workplace issues, NASA, space development, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and mental health issues. Any one or other could show up on any given day.

Although we all do it in different ways and have different talents, one of the things I believe in deeply is that citizens of the world, country, community and family, must all work together for the common good. I believe that it is all of our responsibility to do what we can to make the world we live in a better place both for our fellow citizens and for those who take our place when we are gone. Although over the years, I have been involved in a number of ways, at this point in life, most of my contributions are in writing and publishing.

I am founder and publisher of, a literary zine, which is among the earliest self-help and wellness sites on the Internet. I also write for Forward Progressives, and I publish a blog, where you can read more of my writing: Regina Garson's Blog.
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With that, welcome to Grassroot Rag. Feel free to comment and participate. Or email to let me know if you would like to submit a post on a cause that you feel is important. 

Regina Garson, the Grassroot Rag