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NCJ Number: 51861 Find in a Library
Title: DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA
Journal: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OFFENDER THERAPY AND COMPARATIVE CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:22  Issue:2  Dated:(1978)  Pages:115-126
Author(s): R S WEPPNER; J A INCIARDI
Corporate Author: Assoc for Psychiatric Treatment of Offenders
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Assoc for Psychiatric Treatment of Offenders
London, NW1 6BU, England
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: A BRIEF HISTORY OF MARIHUANA LEGISLATION IS PRESENTED, AND BASED ON A CASE STUDY OF FLORIDA, THE PROS AND CONS OF THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIHUANA ARE DISCUSSED FROM A COST-BENEFIT PERSPECTIVE.
Abstract: IT IS NOTED THAT BY 1930, 16 STATES HAD PROHIBITED THE USE OF MARIHUANA, AND THE MARIHUANA TAX ACT OF 1937 REPRESENTED THE INITIAL FEDERAL EFFORT TO CONTROL THE POSSESSION, SALE AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE DRUG ON A NATIONWIDE SCALE. THESE LAWS ARE SAID TO HAVE STEMMED FROM THE BELIEF THAT MARIHUANA USERS WERE DRUG-CRAZED AND RESPONSIBLE FOR A HIGH INCIDENCE OF VIOLENT CRIME. IN SUBSEQUENT DECADES, LEGISLATION EXPANDED ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES AND HARSH PUNISHMENTS FOR MARIHUANA USERS AND SELLERS, WHILE USE HAS INCREASED AND OPPOSITION TO LEGISLATION HAS GROWN AS EXPERIMENTATION HAS FAILED TO SUBSTANTIATE THE SUPPOSED DANGERS OF THE DRUG'S USE. TEN STATES HAVE REDUCED THE PENALTY FOR MARIHUANA POSSESSION. WHILE IT IS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE RELUCTANCE OF OTHER STATES TO DECRIMINALIZE MARIHUANA CANNOT BE EXPLAINED WITH CERTAINTY FROM EMPIRICAL DATA, EVIDENCE AS TO THE REASONS IS SUGGESTED, TAKEN FROM DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, DRUG TREATMENT, CRIME, AND HOSPITAL STATISTICS. A BUDGET SUMMARY INDICATED THAT FROM FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL SOURCES, $10.5 MILLION WAS BEING SPENT ANNUALLY ON DRUG ABUSE TREATMENT AND CONTROL IN DADE COUNTY. MARIHUANA WAS LISTED AS THE PRIMARY DRUG FOR 26 PERCENT OF ALL CLIENTS IN THE DADE COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE DRUG PROGRAM. FROM 1971 TO 1975, MARIHUANA ARRESTS ACCOUNTED FOR AN AVERAGE OF 61.6 PERCENT OF ALL DRUG-RELATED ARRESTS EACH YEAR. MOST WERE YOUNG, FIRST OFFENDERS ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION. THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF MODERATE AND HEAVY USE OF MARIHUANA ARE DESCRIBED, AND THE QUESTION IS POSED AS TO WHETHER THE EVIDENCE ON THE DANGERS OF MARIHUANA WARRANT THE HUGE FINANCIAL GOVERNMENTAL COSTS OF ENFORCEMENT AND TREATMENT AND THE SOCIAL COSTS INCURRED BY CRIMINAL JUSTICE INTERVENTION IN THE LIVES OF SO MANY YOUTHS. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT AND TREATMENT AGENCIES CHERISH THE FUNDING RECEIVED DUE TO THE CRIMINALIZATION OF MARIHUANA USE. TABULAR DATA AND REFERENCES ARE INCLUDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Cost/Benefit Analysis; Decriminalization; Florida; Marijuana; Studies
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51861

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