Information launched by the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse reveals that admissions to drug remedy facilities for marijuana use in Philadelphia have dropped 80% over 5 years. The decline in drug remedy heart admissions is documented within the 2020 web site report for Philadelphia from the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Nationwide Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS).
“Marijuana admissions have been declining for the previous 5 years and have the bottom proportion of the chosen substances reported,” the authors wrote within the report.
The NDEWS describes and compares drug use patterns and tendencies in chosen communities throughout the US. Coordinators of this system work intently with epidemiologists in 12 communities to observe rising medication and drug tendencies by using indicators akin to overdose deaths, remedy admissions, hospital instances, poison heart publicity calls, and regulation enforcement seizures.
In Philadelphia, the NDEWS knowledge measured admissions into town’s publicly funded drug remedy applications and others mandated for monitoring. In 2015, 1,086 individuals had been referred to drug remedy for marijuana, making up 22.6% of the entire admissions within the metropolis throughout that yr. In 2019, the information recognized solely 213 individuals referred to drug remedy for marijuana, which was solely 6.9% of the entire.
Throughout the identical interval, Philadelphia noticed a rise within the proportion of drug remedy referrals for extra harmful and extremely addictive medication. In 2015, 25.1% of drug remedy referrals had been for heroin. By 2019, the determine had risen to 46%, and the proportion of admissions for prescription opiates had doubled.
Decline Spurred By Drug Coverage Reforms
Chris Goldstein, a regional organizer for the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines (NORML), wrote in an op-ed from the group that the decline in drug remedy admissions for marijuana in Philadelphia may doubtless be attributed largely to 2 components. In 2014, town handed an ordinance decriminalizing possession of marijuana, resulting in a 70% decline in arrests the primary yr. And in 2017, voters elected civil rights legal professional Larry Krasner as district legal professional, resulting in new procedures for these arrested for marijuana offenses.
For many years, these arrested or convicted of marijuana offenses had been referred to drug remedy by the courts, prosecutors, and the probation and parole system. These referrals, usually for offenses involving solely possession of small quantities of marijuana, usually relied on sources that had been additionally used to deal with customers of much more harmful medication akin to alcohol and opiates.
Drug remedy referrals for marijuana additionally replicate the racial bias prevalent within the enforcement of the nation’s drug legal guidelines. In 2019, 72% of drug remedy referrals for marijuana in Philadelphia had been for Black individuals whereas solely 11% of these referred had been white.
“To be blunt: Drug remedy is getting used punitively towards hashish shoppers, even in locations the place decriminalization and legalization legal guidelines exist,” wrote Goldstein. “A robust set of lobbying pursuits exists across the drug remedy sector, and so they will not be keen to shut their courtroom referral money cow.”
“As additional state and even federal marijuana legal guidelines are enacted, cities will nonetheless want to unravel probably the most persistent issues of prohibition,” Goldstein concluded.