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Facts on Marijuana

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has this publication titled The Facts on Marijuana by Douglas Marlowe.  Fact number one refutes the curiously persistent myth that legalization of marijuana would solve our prison crowding issues.  Nonsense.

It is exceedingly rare to be incarcerated in the U.S. for the use or possession of marijuana. According to the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA, 2010), less than 1 percent (0.9%) of jail and prison inmates in the U.S. were incarcerated for marijuana possession as their sole offense.

Excluding jail detainees who may be held pending booking or release on bond, the rates are even lower. Prison inmates sentenced for marijuana possession account for 0.7 percent of state prisoners and 0.8 percent of federal prisoners (see Table).  And, considering that many of those prisoners pled down from more serious charges, the true incarceration rate for marijuana possession can only be described as negligible.
CJLF has not taken a position on the legalization question as such.  But to the extent that false arguments used in that debate impact the larger debates on sentencing policy, it is important to point out when they are bogus.  The claim that we can safely release large numbers of prison inmates because many of them are just harmless pot-smokers is false and dangerous.

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