Monday, December 19, 2005

Teens Say Marijuana "Easy to Get" Despite Record Arrests

For immediate release
December 19, 2005
Teens Say Marijuana "Easy to Get" Despite Record Arrests

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the 31st year in a row, approximately 85% of high school seniors have told government survey-takers that marijuana is "easy to get," according to the 2005 Monitoring the Future survey released today. The report comes less than two months after the FBI reported an all-time record number of marijuana arrests in 2004.

In today's survey, 85.6% of high school seniors described marijuana as being either "fairly easy" or "very easy" to get. This "easy to get" figure has remained virtually unchanged since the survey began in 1975, having never dropped lower than 82.7% (in 1992) or higher than 90.4% (in 1998).

Over the same 31-year period, the number of U.S. marijuana arrests has varied dramatically, dropping to a low of 282,800 in 1991 and then beginning an almost unbroken rise to a record high of 771,605 last year.

"The near-tripling of marijuana arrests since 1991 has produced exactly zero reduction in the availability of marijuana to kids," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Prohibition of marijuana for adults not only doesn't keep marijuana away from children, it actually guarantees that marijuana stays accessible to young people by giving unregulated criminals an exclusive franchise on marijuana sales."

"In contrast, look at the success we've had with tobacco, another product we don't want children to use," Kampia continued. "Today's survey shows teen smoking at its lowest level ever. Reports from around the country show that tobacco products are becoming less accessible to kids, and merchants can be fined or even lose their license if they sell tobacco to minors. Walk into nearly any store that sells cigarettes, and you'll see a large sign saying, 'Under 18, No Tobacco: We Card.' Have you ever seen a drug dealer with a sign like that? To keep marijuana away from kids, the first step is to take control -- and prohibition guarantees that we have no control."

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