Minor Pot Offense Makers Don’t Commit Violent Crimes

Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization that focuses on human rights violations worldwide, has revealed that arresting and prosecuting low level marijuana offenders in New York City has little or no long-term impact on law enforcement efforts to reduce violent crime.

It was reported by a study released by Human Rights Watch that criminal records of nearly 30,000 people who had no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession in public view [NY State Penal Law 221.10] in 2003 and 2004 was tracked.

The researchers reported: “We found that 3.1 percent of [marijuana arrestees] were subsequently convicted of one violent felony offense during the six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years that our research covers; 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions. That is, 1,022 persons out of the nearly 30,000 we tracked had subsequent violent felony convictions. Ninety percent (26,315) had no subsequent felony convictions of any kind.”

The study found that the New York City police arrest more people for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view than for any other offense. Police between 1996 and 2011 made more than half-a-million (586,320) arrests for this misdemeanor, including a total of around 100,000 in just the 2 years of 2010 and 2011.

Investigators concluded: “The rate of felony and violent felony conviction among this group of first-time marijuana arrest’s appear to be lower than the rate of felony conviction’s for the national population, taking into account age, gender, and race. … Neither of our findings nor those of other researchers indicate the arrests are an efficient or fair means for identifying future dangerous felons.”

Cannabis Is A “Potential Exit Drug To Problematic Substance Use”

According to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory, three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance.

The subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada was assessed by an international team of investigators from Canada and the United States.

Subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals, researchers reported and added, “Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”

The authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”

The study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appeared online in Addiction Research and Theory.

Ban On Commercial Marijuana Operations Approved By Douglas County

Marijuana may be legal for recreational use in Colorado, but it would not be available for purchase in Douglas County, one of the most conservative counties in the state. Commercial marijuana operations have been banned in the conservative county while adults over the age of 21 can still legally possess and use marijuana in Douglas County.

Douglas County has approved a ban on commercial marijuana operations that will go into effect that makes it the first county to ban store and grow operations in the state. Despite the fact that Douglas and other counties will have no ability to stop adults 21 or older from possessing up to an ounce of the drug or using it after the passage of Amendment 64, the new legislation does give the authority to regulate marijuana business operations to counties as they want. Douglas County’s decision to ban the commercial marijuana industry would seem to well-represent a constituency that voted down the amendment with 54 percent of the vote.

The Colorado Department of Revenue is expected to have rules set for the industry by July 1st of next year, while other counties are free to pass legislation on commercial marijuana regulation between now and then.

Weld County may be the next county to ban commercial marijuana sales, according to several reports.