It is not uncommon for the opposing forces of marijuana legalization to use rehabilitation rates as ammunition to suggest that the end of prohibition would bring forth an increasing legion of pot junkies. However, some of the latest evidence surrounding drug treatment for cannabis addiction shows that the majority of the people involved with these types of programs have been court ordered and are not trying to rid themselves of stoner demons by their own volition.
A recent study from Uncle Sam’s Department of Health & Human Services indicates that over half the people who undergo treatment programs to remove the dreaded marijuana monkey from their backs are only doing so because the criminal justice system gave them the option of rehab or jail.
As Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority points out in his analysis, this means, “fewer than one out of five people in treatment for marijuana checked themselves in voluntarily or were referred by another individual.”
In breaking down the numbers, it appears as though reefer rehab is mostly being offered as an alternative to incarceration. The report shows that over 44 percent of the people currently sitting in a 12-step or Marijuana Anonymous program are there based solely on a recommendation from their probation or parole officer. The courts are responsible for another 16 percent of the referrals, while more than 2 percent are handed down by the prison system.
“Primary marijuana admissions were most likely to be referred by a criminal justice source,” the report reads.
It is apparent that many people busted for minor marijuana-related offenses are being forced into treatment programs that would be better served on those with legitimate addiction issues. As it stands, the United States is experiencing one of the nastiest prescription painkiller epidemics to ever rear its ugly head.
Incidentally, this outbreak in dope fiend mentality did not forge its way on the scene out of an insatiable lust for feel-good substances. It was initially brought on by the cavalier attitude that the majority of the population assumes when using dangerous drugs prescribed by their trusted physician. This ignorance eventually spiraled into a large-scale search and swallow mission for recreational pain medication. Federal data shows that nearly 60 percent of the people who use painkillers are getting them from the black market, while only around 20 percent rely on script from a doctor.
However, out of the 22.5 million people in the United States considered in need of drug treatment, federal research shows that only about 10 percent receive help through various treatment programs. Furthermore, the concept of forcing marijuana users into drug treatment as penance for being found in possession of a substance that is being legalized all over the country is jamming up many facilities and creating a waiting list for those with real problems.
“The new federal data shows that legalizing marijuana—and taking its users out of the criminal justice system—could free up space in drug treatment programs for people who actually want and need help,” Angell concluded.