Recent data shows that drug treatment admissions for marijuana have declined by 80% in Philadelphia. This is likely a result of a 2014 ordinance decriminalizing possession along with new procedures adopted by District Attorney Larry Krasner, a civil rights attorney elected in 2017.
Site reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) show the significant shift. In 2020 the report’s authors noted that in Philly, “Marijuana admissions have been declining for the past 5 years and have the lowest percentage of the selected substances reported.”
The NDEWS data measured admissions into Philadelphia’s publicly funded treatment programs, and others specifically mandated for monitoring. These resources were often used by those arrested for small amounts of marijuana or to comply with supervision requirements.
Courts, prosecutors, and probation/parole have been the top referral source into drug treatment for marijuana cases for many decades. Sadly, many of these are the very same outpatient resources utilized for all other substances, like alcohol and opiates.
According to NDEWS data Philadelphia saw 1,086 people referred into treatment for marijuana during 2015, comprising 22.6% of total admissions that year. In 2019 that number was down to 213 admissions for marijuana, making up just 6.9% of the total.