The Office of National Drug Control Policy is quibbling with “pro-drug advocates” who supposedly argue that “America's prisons are filled with low-level, nonviolent marijuana users.” The drug czar’s office calls such statements “lies,” asserting that only 1.6 percent of the state inmate population are held for offenses involving marijuana only, with .7 percent of state prisoners incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge.
The drug czar’s report presents a “straw man” argument, says Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Silver Spring, Md. Sterling says that critics of the federal war on drugs do not charge that prisons are “filled” with marijuana-only offenders. One article criticized by drug czar John Walters noted that there are thousands of imprisoned offenders, and that is confirmed by the White House statistic that .7 percent of more than 1 million state prisoners are behind bars for such offenses. The number of arrests for marijuana offenses is increasing, Sterling says, citing recent studies by The Sentencing Project and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.