Reported Treatment Admissions for Marijuana Use



A Mar. 4, 2005 article by Kevin Freking of the Associated Press stated:

"The admission rate for those who seek treatment for marijuana use nearly tripled between 1992 and 2002, according to the latest data compiled by the federal government.

The numbers released Friday [Mar. 4, 2005] reflect a growing use of marijuana in the 1990s and an increase in the potency of marijuana, said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

'This report makes clear what people in the public health community have known for years, which is marijuana is a much more dangerous drug than many Americans realize,' Riley said. 'This report is a wake up call for parents that marijuana is not a soft drug. It's a much bigger part of the addiction problem than is generally understood.'

The study on treatment rates was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which estimated that 41 states experienced an increase in the number of people who sought treatment for marijuana use during the decade studied. Overall, the admission rates rose from 45 per 100,000 people in 1992 to 118 per 100,000 people in 2002, which is the latest year such numbers are available."
Mar. 4, 2005  Associated Press


[EDITOR'S NOTE: Medical Marijuana ProCon.org, in accordance with its policy to "comment when we believe that information put out by government officials or organizations is false, misleading, or erroneous," conducted a study in 2003 concerning a similar report released by SAMHSA detailing admissions into treatment for marijuana, as reported by all 50 U.S. states to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) in the years 1994-99. We reprint this below because we believe that the latest information disseminated by SAMHSA may be misleading.]

We separated out 15 states for study.

 

  1. Five states with the five greatest increases during those years:
    • Delaware - 400% increase
    • Alabama - 217% increase
    • Indiana - 216% increase
    • Mississippi - 200% increase
    • Missouri - 185% increase
  2. The five states in the statistical middle of the 50 U.S. states:
    • New Hampshire - 56% increase
    • South Dakota - 56% increase
    • Vermont - 56% increase
    • California - 55% increase
    • Oregon - 55% increase
  3. The five states with the greatest decreases:
    • Kansas - 24% decrease
    • New Jersey - 27% decrease
    • Nebraska - 33% decrease
    • Virginia - 53% decrease
    • New Mexico - 63% decrease
  4. Our senior researcher, Jeff Yablan, then spoke with officials in the 15 states and compiled the information obtained from those officials. Medical Marijuana ProCon.org's findings (about the above) follow:

I. Top 5 States with Highest Increases in Treatment Admissions [and top five drugs of choice in state, in order of predominance]:

. A. B. C.
. State Reported Change in MJ Trmt Admiss. State responses to our question: What do you think caused the changes in reported [to TEDS] marijuana treatment admissions?
1. Delaware 400% Increase New drug court system allows possessors to be sent to treatment instead of jail.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Delaware: Alcohol, Heroin, Cocaine, Marijuana, Amphetamines]
2. Alabama 217% Increase More referrals (from criminal justice), and more available services, as well as increased use.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Alabama: Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Oxycontin, Methamphetamine]
3. Indiana 216% Increase More funding (from $18.7 million federal funds in 1993 to $30 million in 1999, plus $3.5 million more from state), more services, a new managed care system, and a change in what is reported (Before, only reported what treatment was paid for by the government, now every admissions is reported).

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Indiana: Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana, Hallucinogens, Amphetamines]
4. Mississippi 200% Increase Improvements within the state in collecting and compiling data, as well as a greater capacity to handle more patients. Also, more referrals from a new drug court system.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Mississippi: Alcohol, Crack/Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, Amphetamines]
5. Missouri 185% Increase More referrals from the Justice Department (state). In 2001 referrals were overwhelmingly from justice. Out of 10,000 referrals, 6,000 were from justice, 44 from schools, and rest were self-referrals, many of which could also be due to advice from their attorneys regarding a criminal case.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Missouri: Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Stimulants, Other]

II. Middle 5 States in Treatment Admissions [and top five drugs of choice in state, in order of predominance]:

. A. B. C.
. State Reported Change in MJ Trmt Admiss. State responses to our question: What do you think caused the changes in reported [to TEDS] marijuana treatment admissions?
6. New Hampshire 56% Increase State has instituted better data collection and reporting abilities.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in New Hampshire: Alcohol, Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine, Other]
7. South Dakota 56% Increase Better and earlier diagnosis. Better educated parents. More referrals from courts and Dept. of Corrections.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in South Dakota: Alcohol, Marijuana, Other, No Primary, Cocaine]
8. Vermont 56% Increase More people referred to treatment by law enforcement and schools. More treatment available as well. Marijuana usage increased slightly from 1993-95, then leveled off and decreased.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Vermont: Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Heroin]
9. California 55% Increase "We believe the increase is due to increased treatment facilities and increases in law enforcement referrals. We don't believe the use of marijuana has changed, just the focus of law enforcement."

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in California: Alcohol, Tobacco, Methamphetamine, No Primary, Other]
10. Oregon 55% Increase Increased funding has enabled more treatment facilities and services.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Oregon: Alcohol, Methamphetamine, Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine]

III. Bottom 5 States in Treatment Admission changes [and top five drugs of choice in state, in order of predominance]:

. A. B. C.
. State Reported Change in MJ Trmt Admiss. State responses to our question: What do you think caused the changes in reported [to TEDS] marijuana treatment admissions?
11. Kansas 24% Decrease A change in the reporting system. Prior to 1997, the state reported every admissions, and if one person was admitted to different facilities with the same year (which many do), they would be reported multiple times. This changed in 1997. Each person admitted is reported only once per year.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Kansas: Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Other]
12. New Jersey 27% Decrease Decrease in marijuana usage. Education efforts and popularity of other drugs, such as alcohol, which has increased. A new drug court system was initiated during that period.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in New Jersey: Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Cocaine, Inhalants]
13. Nebraska 33% Decrease The State has switched to managed care. Before that, every admission was reported. Now they only report what they are paid to treat. Private pays and insurance pays are not reported. In 1997 their State facilities reported a total of 20,000 admissions for all substance abuse admissions. In 1999 they only reported 13,000. Additionally, amphetamine use has increased greatly.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Nebraska: Alcohol, Methamphetamine, Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin]
14. Virginia 53% Decrease Lax in reporting and no central computer system for compiling that data has interfered with accurate reporting. Less than half of the treatment facilities reported to TEDS from 1993-99, and many individuals were reported multiple times. They are almost at 100% now.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in Virginia: Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Designer, Opiates]
15. New Mexico 63% Decrease The data for New Mexico was not reported correctly to TEDS during 1998 and 1999, thus showing a decrease in treatment admissions. Reported admissions from 1997-1999 are not complete.

[Top five drugs of abuse (in order) in New Mexico: Alcohol, Heroin, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Marijuana]