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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Drug Courts Used Primarily for Marijuana Charges

Drug courts give people charged with a crime related to illegal substances an alternative to jail, such as treatment. However, critics argue that drug courts are used more for people with minor marijuana infractions rather than those with serious drug problems, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Many states around the country have adopted the use of drug courts with the hope that they will give people with substance use disorders an opportunity to better their lives. While such programs have done a lot a good for people, in many cases drug courts have been used primarily for people with marijuana possession charges.

In a country where more people are arrested for pot possession than any other drug offense, it stands to reason that marijuana charges make up the bulk of those given the option of drug court. In many cases, drug courts have eligibility requirements that can bar admission for those with serious drug problems. What’s more, drug courts can be costly; attending outpatient treatment several times a week over the course of months is not free.

"For serious drug offenders it has been a far better alternative than prison," said John Roman, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute. "The problem is very few people who have those serious problems get into one of these drug courts. Instead, we take all kinds of people into drug court who don't have serious problems."

In some states, there a so many people being processed through drug courts for marijuana charges that counties have had to set up special drug courts that deal primarily with marijuana cases, according to the article. In fact, in Florida's Broward Country, the special marijuana drug court can process 50-80 marijuana offenders daily. 

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