Saturday, June 23, 2007

Go for Sex, Stay for Drugs

Okay, if CNN can use a similar headline to titillate readers, why can't we? (Is it wrong how much I like saying "titillate"?) Here's the story in question, which spends the bulk of its time on some frankly disappointingly uninteresting results of a survey (that didn't include the homeless, incarcerated, or other institutionalized adults) about American sexual habits. Maybe I'm just jealous because I was so conclusively in the minority on the items. But, to me, the most newsworthy part of the poll was the part on American drug use. Here are the major findings:

--Twenty-six percent of men and 17 percent of women have tried cocaine or other street drugs (not including marijuana) at some time in their life. Seven percent of men and 4 percent of women had done so within the past 12 months.

--Non-Hispanic whites had a higher percentage of ever using cocaine or street drugs (23.5 percent) than blacks (18 percent) or Mexican-Americans (16 percent).

--Adults who were married or had more than a high school education were less likely to use street drugs than others.

A lot packed in those three bullets. Confirmation of the impact of marriage and education on drug use. If marijuana is pulled from consideration, drug use is pretty minimal in this country. In fact, why isn't the result phrased: "93% of men and 96% of women had not used drugs within the past 12 months"? No wonder there's such emphasis on a drug that has no known toxic level as compared to legal drugs like alcohol and Ritalin. Think of all the drug warriors out of work (or maybe out actually preventing violent and habitual crime and victimization) if we reduced marijuana use to a fine or a tax to be put into rehab programs for users of these harder drugs. And finally, even more confirmation that the disportionality we see in our imprisonment of minorities on drug convictions is unwarranted. All the states still looking at disparity (not as many as a decade or two ago, but I know MN and WI still are) should have this poll front and center as evidence of enforcement and conviction discrimination. With all that important info, I can see why the story has it all at the bottom of the article and, believe it or not, the Boston Globe doesn't report it at all. Priorities, you know.

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