Thursday, March 03, 2005

Prohibitionists practice fortunetelling

ONDCP has released another self-serving survey on predicting heavy drug use that promotes religious intervention for drug abusing teenagers and puts forward the ridiculous theory that cracking down on marijuana use will somehow prevent kids from using cocaine. Your tax dollars are being spent on this useless report that contains such gems as kids who report significant illegal income and are suspended from school are more likely to become addicted to cocaine.

The report starts by explaining why their scientifically suspect methodology should be trusted as predictor of future behavior and essentially admits it has no way to distinguish heavy users from youthful experimentation and expends a lot of bandwidth justifying results that run counter to other more scientifically grounded studies. Here's a fine example of their "reasoning."
Respondents included in the study share more in common with respondents excluded from the study. However, respondents included in the study report more drug use than those excluded from the study.
What is that supposed to mean really? Furthermore, the majority of the respondents didn't use drugs at all. So where's the crisis that requires spending billions on marijuana intervention?

The only thing this particular report can report with certainty is that some teenagers do drugs, sometimes and sometimes, some few teens do drugs all the time. They admit they have no idea why this happens, yet somehow they extrapolate from this non-data that sending them to church and curtailing marijuana use will solve everything - conveniently ignoring that among those few teens that admitted chronic drug abuse, the so called gateway drug was tobacco, followed closely by alcohol. The study also fails to acknowledge that prior research has shown teens who use marijuana before they try alcohol tend not to become problem drinkers.

The report doesn't address strategies to deal with legal drug abuse of course, a far greater health problem, no doubt because the alcohol and tobacco industries tend to contribute to political action committees and pinning the true cause of drug abuse on legal substances would put the prohibition profiteers out of business.

These are your tax dollars at work folks. I can think of better ways to spend $50 billion a year - can't you?

[Link via Scott at Grits for Breakfast]


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