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August 18, 2004

Marijuana Arrests and Increase in Marijuana Use Disorders—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(7):802. doi:10.1001/jama.292.7.802-b

In Reply: We appreciate the chance to revisit our analyses of the trends in marijuana abuse and dependence from 1991-1992 to 2001-2002. Dr Earleywine suggests differential increases in marijuana-related legal problems as an explanation for the marked increases in marijuana abuse and dependence rates for younger black men and women and younger Hispanic men. Taking advantage of the ability of the 2 data sets to be disaggregated down to the diagnostic criteria level, we examined rates of marijuana-related legal problems in both time periods for the separate age, sex, and race/ethnic groups. We found increases from 1991-1992 to 2001-2002 in marijuana-related legal problems for the overall sample and for young white as well as young black and Hispanic subgroups. Thus, we do not find support for the hypothesis that differences in increases in marijuana-related legal problems explain the marked shift in patterns of marijuana abuse and dependence among ethnic minorities. We agree that detailed analyses of symptom patterns within the abuse and dependence categories may be useful, and future work will include a full examination of trends in diagnostic profiles according to age, sex, and race/ethnicity.