It was just a few days ago that I put forth my Open letter to marijuana prohibitionists and so-called third-way-ers and said:
Correlation and Causation are two different words.
Get this one right. There are millions of people who use and have used marijuana, so there’s bound to be some strong correlations out there. Correlations are interesting, and may be a reason to do further study, but generally, they are not, of themselves, a reason to act.
For example, marijuana use has been linked to Nobel Prizes, the U.S. Presidency, and Olympic Gold Medals. That doesn’t mean that marijuana use is going to cause you to get any of those things.
But yesterday, all over twitter and the media, the drug czar and his assistants havee been screaming at the top of their lungs about the link between drugs and crime.
In the manner typical of the ONDCP, they talk about it in such a way as to strongly imply causation, pushing the media to act as their patsies (and there are still a few who are happy to do so).
Mike Riggs does a good job of responding with Drug Czar Report on Crime and Drug Use Is Really a Report About Being Poor and Getting Caught
WASHINGTON — Marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime in the United States, the U.S. drug czar said Thursday, dismissing calls for legalization as a “bumper-sticker approach” that should be avoided.
Gil Kerlikowske, the White House director of national drug-control policy, said a study by his office showed a strong link between drug use and crime. Eighty percent of the adult males arrested for crimes in Sacramento, Calif., last year tested positive for at least one illegal drug. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, found in 54 percent of those arrested.
We’re going to see versions of this story everywhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw most of them written up the way McClatchy’s was, which is to say, without any indication that reporter Rob Hotakainen actually read the 2012 Annual Report on the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program II (or ADAM II in ONDCP shorthand), which is 122 pages long–far too long for Hotakainen to have examined it before firing off a dispatch about Kerlikowske’s speech. And yet, reading the report is the only way to tell whether Kerlikowske is spinning the results. (He is.)
It was interesting seeing communications director Raphael LeMaitre on Twitter promoting the drug/crime link, but he wasn’t getting away with it there.
Still, you can bet that we’re going to continue to get this kind of activity from the Drug Czar. Anything (including blatantly dishonest implying) to get the public worried about legalization. “Look — drugs and crime!”