« Notable resources and notice from the US Sentencing Commission | Main | DPIC releases year-end report emphasizing small number of executing and death sentencing states in 2023 »

November 30, 2023

Bureau of Justice Statistics releases "Federal Prisoner Statistics Collected Under the First Step Act, 2023"

Providing another report for prison data junkies, the Bureau of Justice Statistics today released this 26-page report titled ""Federal Prisoner Statistics Collected Under the First Step Act, 2023." Here the report's introduction and some of the "Key findings" that seemed most interesting:

The First Step Act of 2018 (FSA) requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), through its National Prisoner Statistics program, to collect data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on specific topics and to report these data annually. BJS is required to report on selected characteristics of persons in prison, including marital, veteran, citizenship, and English-speaking status; education levels; medical conditions; and participation in treatment programs. In addition, BJS is required to report facility-level statistics, such as the number of assaults on staff by prisoners, prisoners’ violations of rules that resulted in time credit reductions, and selected facility characteristics including accreditation, on-site healthcare, remote learning, video conferencing, and costs of prisoners’ phone calls.

Collected in 2023, the statistics in this report are for calendar year 2022, which represented the fourth full year of reporting under the FSA. Data for calendar year 2023 will be available from the BOP in 2024. Unless otherwise noted, all counts in this report include persons held in federal correctional facilities operated by the BOP (122 institutional facilities).

  • The federal prison population increased about 1%, from 156,542 at yearend 2021 to 158,637 at yearend 2022.

  • At yearend 2022, there were 8,627 persons with prior military service in BOP facilities, accounting for about 5% of the total federal prison population.

  • The number of non-U.S. citizens in federal prison at yearend 2022 was 24,078, virtually unchanged from 2020 and 2021....

  • Seventy percent of persons in BOP facilities at yearend 2022 had earned a high school diploma, general equivalency degree (GED), or other equivalent certificate prior to their admission to federal prison (110,531), and an additional 3,543 earned their GED credential or equivalent certificate during 2022.

  • In 2022, there were 10,177 instances of persons in special housing units, a 10% increase from 2021 (9,261)....

  • In 2022, 20,880 federal prisoners participated in a nonresidential substance use disorder treatment program, while 12,035 participated in a residential program....

  • In 2022, there were 80,490 prohibited acts committed by persons incarcerated in federal prisons....

  • In 2022, BOP staff were physically assaulted by federal prisoners 965 times, which resulted in serious injuries 19 times and 12 prosecutions of prisoners....

  • The BOP partnered with 1,580 external groups to provide recidivism reduction programming in 122 federal prison facilities in 2022.

  • Sixty percent (947) of the BOP’s partnerships that were in place in 2022 to provide recidivism reduction programming were with faith-based groups.

  • Of the 145,062 persons in federal prison as of December 31, 2022 assessed with the BOP’s recidivism risk tool, the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs (PATTERN), 54% were classified as minimum or low risk for recidivism, 27% were classified as high risk for recidivism, and 19% as medium risk at yearend 2022.

  • In 2022, PATTERN classified a higher percentage of females than males as minimum or low risk for recidivism (81% compared to 52%).

  • As of December 31, 2022, PATTERN classified 61% of black and 59% of American Indian or Alaska Native federal prisoners as a medium or high risk of recidivism, compared to 36% of white and 27% of Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander prisoners.

  • In 2022, PATTERN classified 83% of federal prisoners ages 55 to 64 and 93% of those age 65 or older as having a minimum or low risk of recidivism.

  • In 2022, the BOP identified 41 Evidence-Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) Programs and 52 Productive Activities (PAs) that persons in federal prison could access for various needs, including antisocial behavior, anger management, substance abuse, parenting skills, and dyslexia.

November 30, 2023 at 04:26 PM | Permalink


The worst mistake they ever made was not putting a limit on the number of motions a prisoner can file in a given time period. They should add a three strikes mechanism similar to he PLRA.

Posted by: Da Man | Dec 1, 2023 3:54:14 PM

During my 8 years in Federal prisons, I saw and was around some horrible violence, with FCIs (Medium security) being just as violent as U.S. Penitentiaries. At FCI- Manchester, Kentucky an inmate with a life sentence for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine (he had tattoos from his ear lobes to his ankles) stabbed another inmate in the neck during lunch in the dining hall. If an alert guard had not reached into the hole in the inmate's neck and pinched off the severed vein, the inmate would have quickly bled to death. The stabber was taken to the Hole and the F.B.I. was called to the prison. When the agents arrived to investigate 2 hours later, they found no crime scene, as the Chief Cook Supervisor had had all of the blood mopped up, and the shank was missing. An inmate had taken the bloody shank out to the loading dock and thrown it in the dumpster. The agents were furious. The stabber was charged with possession of a deadly weapon inside a Federal prison, and with attempted murder of another inmate -- but once you have a Federal life sentence, who cares if you get 2 or 3 more; life is life, and we each have only a single life. The stabber was kept in solitary confinement in the hole for more than a year, before he was finally given a cellmate. During the cellmate's first week living in the cell, the stabber waited one day for him to cuff up behind his back to go to outdoor recreation. Then, the stabber refused to cuff up himself, and used a razor blade (stolen from a disposable razor, which the guards did not inspect closely enough upon its return) to slice his handcuffed cellmate's throat from ear to ear. The last thing he said before he cut the other inmate's throat was, "Don't take this personally. This is just between me and the Warden." The guards got the wounded inmate out of the cell before he bled to death and he was taken to a local hospital, where his throat was stitched back together. He had black thread (sutures) running from one law to the other. Within 4 hours, he was returned to The Hole from the hospital. The guards took his paper, pens and stamps, and cut his phone privileges off, so that he couldn't call his family and tell them what had just happened. Keep in mind, this occurred at a medium security prison, not even a penitentiary. Few people who haven't been inmates, guards or staff appreciate just how violent inmates can be inside Federal prisons. Thankfully, in my 8 years, I managed to avoid becoming a victim in that environment. One secret now is that more than half of the people on Federal death row are inmates who have killed other guards or inmates after having been sentenced to life in prison in prior cases. People I tell these stories to say that I should write a book, because the public would be truly shocked by what really goes on inside the BOP.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 2, 2023 12:45:46 PM


You make a wonderful case for the death penalty.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 2, 2023 1:04:49 PM

TarlsQtr and Jim,

I second the motion.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 2, 2023 9:52:26 PM

It is not surprising that we find some of the worst of the worst of the very worst and most violent and dangerous people in America inside medium and high security Federal prisons. The narrowing funnel of the criminal justice system sent them where they belong. Few outside the criminal justice system know that the average sentence length inside FCIs (medium security) is 22 years. In max penitentiaries, 2/3 of the inmates have life sentences (with no parole possible) and 85% have 30 years to life. In penitentiaries, 25% to 30% of inmates have murders committed on the streets in their jackets (files). The BOP estimates that another 20% to 25% of penitentiary inmates have killed someone on the street, but not been caught or prosecuted for it. The BOP believes that at least half of the inmates in penitentiaries have murdered someone, whether they were caught and prosecuted for it or not. Many of these people also have serious psychiatric problems, which the BOP does not attempt to treat thru therapy of any kind, but just with medications (and sometimes they even forget to give the meds!). Some of these inmates also endured violent dysfunctional childhoods, and never really had a chance at a decent life. I knew inmates whose own parents and family members began giving them marijuana, alcohol and even narcotic and benzo pills at age 9 or 10 years old. What I learned is that the emotional and spiritual development of these men stopped when they began using alcohol and/or drugs heavily in their youths. So, I would be looking at a muscular 35-year-old man, whose body was being run by a brain that had stopped developing at age 12 or 13 years old. Before going to prison, I was unaccustomed to being around people like this. It took me about 2 years to realize that my I.Q. is about double that of many of the inmates around me. It was not unusual to read in PSRs that an inmate's I.Q. was 70 to 80. People like this are immature and have poor impulse control. They grew up in environments where violence is a normal part of life. I knew one man who had watched his own step-father be shot and killed in front of him at age 5. If we as a society are to maintain and use a DEATH PENALTY, then it should be applied to inmates with life sentences who kill other inmates or guards in prison; for giving someone who already is serving a life sentence more life sentences is meaningless. The BOP has long maintained a "Control Unit" (years ago at USP - Marion, Illinois) for the most dangerous men in the BOP. They are on permanent lockdown in solitary confinement, and when they get their 1 hour per day of outdoor recreation in the equivalent of a dog-run, they are alone -- not even permitted recreation with another person.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 3, 2023 6:18:49 AM

Look at John Turscak, the former Mexican Mafia gang member (and a former Government informant, after DOJ learned about all of the crimes he had been committing while working for them) who just stabbed former police officer Derek Chauvin 22 times at FCI - Tuscan. Turscak says that he had been planning to stab Chauvin for about a month, and did so on "Black Friday" [the Friday after Thanksgiving] for symbolic reasons ["Black Lives Matter", for George Floyd, and the "Black Hand" symbol of the Mexican Mafia]. Turscak, now 52 years old, was sentenced to 30 years in Federal prison in 2001, so he has already served 22 years of that sentence (plus jail credit for any pretrial detention). The maximum sentences for his new charges, attempted murder in a prison and assault in a Federal prison causing serious bodily injury are only 20 years. The BOP might also place Turscak in solitary at the BOP's "Super Max" prison in Colorado. The BOP is going to have to decide whether they can safely hold Chauvin in any BOP facility (possibly a small medical facility, like the one in Devins, Massachusetts), or whether they might swap him off to a small, isolated state facility, such as the penitentiary in North Dakota. Chauvin's nightmare was the possibility of spending 20+ years in solitary confinement, in protective custody in Minnesota. That is why his Federal plea agreement specified that he would serve his concurrent state and Federal sentences in BOP custody. Notably, the 2 safest places for an inmate to be inside a high security prison are the law library and the chapel. It is most rare for an inmate to be stapped inside the prison's law library.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 3, 2023 7:23:54 AM

There is another side to the levels of custody in the BOP. All the nonviolent marijuana offenders who are sentenced to life without parole are placed in high security facilities not FCIs. Most all received this sentence because they exercised their right to trial. They are not the only nonviolent offenders placed there.

This is an inappropriate and expensive designation. These designations also make it appear that there are more violent offenders in the BOP.

Posted by: beth curtis | Dec 3, 2023 12:31:33 PM


Let’s be direct and remove the mush mouth language. “Non violent marijuana offenders?”

Please define “offenders.” Trafficking convictions? Or, some guy getting pulled over with a blunt in his ashtray?

What are the numbers behind that designation, with a source? Your comment implies the latter, but that number barely exists. No one has sympathy for the former, however, beyond the most anti-American and pro-Hamas defense attorneys and their fellow travelers.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 3, 2023 5:20:41 PM

Former Prez Trump commuted or pardoned the sentences of dozens of federal marijuana traffickers (including Beth's brother). I am pretty sure Prez Trump is not an "anti-American and pro-Hamas defense attorney." And given that the vast majority of states have now legalized marijuana trafficking in various forms, I am pretty sure former Prez Trump is not the only counter-example to your "no one" claim.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 3, 2023 7:41:05 PM


If someone said, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” would you look up?

If there was a groundswell of support for marijuana traffickers, you wouldn’t be using mushy language to describe what we are talking about. You’d be clear and accurate, describing people who traffic and sell large amounts of marijuana, often to children and laced with fentanyl or embalming fluid, and often use violence to defend their turf.

See how that polls.

It’s why you don’t do it. Pretending you are speaking about some young kid with a joint brings compassion.

I still cannot figure out why you try to throw Trump in my face all the time (for the rhetorically challenged, that’s not literal “all.”) I’ve never supported Trump as a candidate. If he wins the nomination, and I won’t vote for him in the primary, it will be the first time I do so and only because even he is better than a corpse of a man, a brain dead woman, or a slimy used car salesman from California.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 3, 2023 8:08:47 PM

TarlsQtr, I don't mean to use mushy language. Of course I wasn't talking about some guy being pulled over in his car with marijuana.

They were all charged with large amounts of pot. The nonviolent part is true. They imported or grew marijuana and or hashish. These "offenders" are usually farmers, pilots, surfers, fishermen etc. They were carefully vetted before they were categorized as nonviolent marihuana only.

Many are still incarcerated with life sentences or defacto life sentences. I'm sure you know that marijuana is still a schedule I drug on the Controlled Substance Act's Schedule. It is still scheduled as more dangerous than heroin or fentanyl.

Of course, most of those who received these sentences did go to trial. They spent and spend their time in the BOP teaching classes, taking classes, doing legal work for others and working for Unicor. They live in a dangerous place and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Posted by: beth curtis | Dec 3, 2023 9:09:33 PM

Master Tarls, Beth describes at length the offenders she advocated for through her "Life for Pot" website: https://www.lifeforpot.com/ (I am not sure she has updated the site since Prez Trump commuted her brother's sentence.) You can check out at her work and complain to her if you dislike her terminology.

In your comment, I noticed you just used the term "trafficking" and said "No one has sympathy for" marijuana traffickers save for "the most anti-American and pro-Hamas defense attorneys and their fellow travelers." I pointed out that Prez Trump granted many marijuana traffickers clemency, and I mentioned Trump because I assumed you do not consider him in the category of "the most anti-American and pro-Hamas defense attorneys and their fellow travelers." And clemency often seems a good example of showing "sympathy." I could have used Presidents Biden and Obama instead of Prez Trump, since they also granted many clemencies to marijuana traffickers, but I feared you might consider them "fellow travelers" in your epithet.

As for your description of a subset of illicit marijuana traffickers --- those who sell "marijuana, often to children and laced with fentanyl or embalming fluid, and often use violence to defend their turf" --- your rhetoric echoes that of advocates for marijuana legalization. They assert marijuana trafficking will be safer when done under legal regimes rather than under prohibition regimes.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 3, 2023 9:29:50 PM

As a side note, It's difficult for someone with a life sentence to receive any kind of compassionate release even if they are "nonviolent offenders". I will be personal. My brother had an astounding risk assessment score of -13 and a security level score of 4 which is lowest level or out. He was denied compassionate release after being incarcerated for 25 years. CR is being denied incomprehensibly.

Posted by: beth curtis | Dec 3, 2023 9:30:40 PM


“They assert…”

Do YOU assert? If so, why not say it? If not, why bring up something even you don’t believe?

Trump has no ideology other than getting elected. If he thought being tougher would get more votes, he’d be tougher. Hell, he suddenly wants the DP for drug dealers. Do you believe he is serious about that too?

These traffickers are undermining the very program you wanted, a government run system (who says you are libertarian) that is taxed, regulated, and uses approved sources. How is this different than a guy making unregulated pills in his basement, in place of Pfizer? It’s a black market, something you told me would be eliminated with legalization. You gave us the worst of both worlds.


Those “farmers, pilots, etc.,” are providing dangerous drugs often laced with fentanyl, embalming fluid, etc., to children. They KNOW this, even if they don’t personally put it in there.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 3, 2023 10:32:00 PM

TarlsQtr, I don’t think I can respond to assumptions. I would if I were familiar with them.

Posted by: Beth Curtis | Dec 3, 2023 10:55:56 PM


Huh? That marijuana is often laced is no assumption. Even pro-pot outlets like the one in the below link discuss it.

FTA: “The best way to be perfectly safe and enjoy your weed without having to think about all these substances is to buy from your local dispensary or a licensed producer.”

People like your brother are not “licensed producer(s)” any more than the Chinese guy making imitation Viagra in his basement.


Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 4, 2023 12:02:40 AM


1. If "no one has sympathy" for marijuana traffickers, why would Trump think he could earn votes by granting clemency to many (relatively high-profile) marijuana traffickers? Suggesting Trump's significant clemency record for marijuana traffickers was just about seeking to "get more votes" only further undermines your "no one" assertion I was disputing.

2. Because it is much harder to gather data on illicit markets than on licit markets, it is hard to tell how much marijuana legalization has helped diminish the problems of harmful illicit producers. As you note, even always legal drugs like Viagra have some illicit (and more harmful) producers, so I have long thought it misguided for anyone to claim or believe marijuana reform would ensure the complete displacement of the illicit market with a licit one (especially given decades of illicit market development and the fact that there is still lots of prohibitions in place). But I have long been hopeful that legalization would enable a slow transition toward fewer illicit market players.

That seems to be the case in some states, especially those which seemed to have relatively smaller initial illicit markets (eg, Illinois, Michigan). It is less clear in places with long-standing illicit market like California, especially when regulatory and tax structures make it hard for licit producers to complete on price with long-standing illicit ones. My main point here is that if your main concern is not "marijuana trafficking" in general, but rather illicit traffickers who sell adulterated products and to children and use violence, there is a basis to believe marijuana reform is on a path to putting more of those folks out of business than prohibition ever did. (I assume you do not dispute this assertion from the 2018 article you link: "The best way to be perfectly safe and enjoy your weed without having to think about all these substances is to buy from your local dispensary or a licensed producer.")

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 4, 2023 8:52:35 AM

1. Because of the already mentioned “mushy language.” When you say, “marijuana offenders,” instead of “people who traffic pot knowing it will be sold to kids with crushed glass in it,” you surely get a different answer. In your framework for helping America go to hell, you also didn’t express the plain truth that today’s pot is not recognizable from what my parents or I could have smoked. That’s without adulterants.

2. Yeah, but we put those illicit Viagra producers in prison, right? Why should illicit pot producers be different?

My main concern IS usage. Why? Because it is bad for individuals and society,

But, as I told you years ago, there would always be an illicit market. You sold us BS that was completely foreseeable and we still spend law enforcement dollars on stopping an even more dangerous product. Liberal parents already produce more mentally ill children. Let’s throw pot on top of it? Absurd idea.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 4, 2023 12:20:24 PM

Master Tarls: 1. Surely get "a different answer" to what? Beth made a point about where marijuana offenders serving LWOP in federal prison get housed. Not sure what "answer" you are talking about.

2. I am also not sure what you think I sold you, but I do not at all dispute that some vocal advocates for marijuana reform often claim that reforms will solve problems that seem unlikely to be solved by a legal reforms. (I still recall an event here in Ohio at a law firm in 2015 where a guy from Colorado asserted domestic violence was down 75% in his state since legalization.) Of course, some opponents of marijuana reform make claims that are also overstatements in service to their advocacy. That advocates often believe (or at least claim) that their proposals/views are stronger than sober analysis supports is hardly unique to the debates over marijuana policy.

My point from the get-go was that I think everyone has an interest in reducing the harms of illicit drug producers, and that is what many marijuana reformers sincerely believe they are helping to advance. Ending alcohol Prohibition served seemed to help reduce the harms of the bathtub gin, though around the world there are still problems with the production and sale of adulterate alcohol. (Also, the government played a role in some adulteration during Prohibition: https://slate.com/technology/2010/02/the-little-told-story-of-how-the-u-s-government-poisoned-alcohol-during-prohibition.html). Of course, many public health experts would make the same point against alcohol usage that you raised above. And some marijuana reforms want to believe that getting folks to switch from using alcohol to marijuana would be a net gain for individual and society. I am still trying to figure out both the normative and empirical foundations for such a claim.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 4, 2023 2:20:08 PM


1. You’d get a different answer from people regarding their opinions. It’s all about what you ask and how you ask it. Asking, “Should we allow ‘marijuana offenders’ out,” is certainly different than asking my version, which is more truthful.

2. I’m tired of hearing about prohibition. It’s not a 1:1 comparison.

I’ll tell you what you sold me. A. It would eliminate the cartels. 2. Less violence. 3. Eliminate the need for government to spend resources on marijuana. 4. A pot o gold in tax revenue to fight addiction.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 4, 2023 4:11:46 PM


1. I agree that how you describe different offenders will influence "people regarding their opinions." But Beth was discussing BOP designations for marijuana offenders serving LWOP, not public opinions.

2. I agree that ending alcohol Prohibition and ending marijuana prohibition are "not a 1:1 comparison." Indeed, in my marijuana class I talk at length about how marijuana is a sui generis drug; we also talk about (imperfect) comparisons to tobacco and gambling and guns.

3. Can you point to my sales pitches? I am certainly hopeful state-level reforms, even in the shadow of federal prohibition, is reducing the amount of illicit sales and associated violence and cartel profits. But, even legal markets can sometimes prompt violence and cartels. Legal marijuana sales in less than half of US states has already produced nearly $20 billion in state tax revenues, which could cover a lot of enforcement costs and considerable additional revenue to fight addiction. I suspect we could see ANNUAL tax revenues in the tens of billions were prohibition ended nationwide. But I am not at all confident governments will use the revenues from marijuana legalization only for these purposes.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 4, 2023 8:08:42 PM


We are talking conversations going back years. I’m not going to take days to comb through thousands of posts.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 4, 2023 10:31:53 PM

TarlsQtr, If people are charged with marihuana trafficking only, you can be sure that their product was marijuana only. If it was laced with other toxic drugs that would most certainly be included in the charges.

My understanding is that presently people who are charged with selling large quantities of marijuana are mainly domestic growers and people in the business who violate the rules and regulations. This is different than the 80s and 90s. I'm not addressing those who are selling small quantities on a street corner.

"Last Call" by Daniel Okrent is a good reference for anyone who is interested in alcohol prohibition and it's effect on the criminal justice system. It is especially interesting to see the political implications of prohibition and the establishment of crime syndicates that resulted from prohibition.

Many deaths are associated with alcohol consumption, yet we rarely see those who sell it bring held responsible. That is, of course, because this drug is legal. If I had to choose between riding home with someone who was drunk vs. someone who had smoked pot I would choose the pot smoker who would drive slowly and maybe pull over and have a nap vs. someone who was drunk who may be generally agitated and aggressive. As a personal aside, I don't indulge.

Posted by: beth curtis | Dec 5, 2023 12:07:10 AM


As I said previously, traffickers do not have to put the ground glass into it. They know it is happening, just as they know it will end up in the hands of kids.

Your analogy is wrong. It’s similar to saying anal cancer is not quite as bad as pancreatic cancer, so we should let up on anal cancer. It’s not as bad!

I would also say that you are wrong. The police can test for drunkenness right on the spot. There is no test for marijuana impairment. Here is a look at a country, Canada, where pot is legal everywhere. The numbers are staggering.


Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 1:21:14 AM

Master Tarls: 1. You do not seem like someone inclined to fall for any sales pitches, though I will readily say that have long expressed the hope that marijuana reforms would produce more benefits than harms.

2. Based on research underlying the CNN article you cite, the numbers are staggering ... as to the much, much bigger problem of drunk driving. Specifically, from the study of Canada hospital data: "Over the 13-year study period, the rate of total traffic injury ED visits that involved cannabis increased by 475.3% (from 0.18 in 2010 to 1.01 per 1000 traffic injury ED visits in 2021), while the rate of total traffic injury ED visits that involved alcohol increased by 9.4% (from 8.03 in 2010 to 8.79 per 1000 traffic injury ED visits in 2021)." https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2808961. In other words, even after a big increase in measured traffic injury ED visits that involved cannabis through 2021, it was still nearly NINE times more likely a traffic injury ED visit involved alcohol. The raw numbers of injuries are even more staggering over this period: a full 7279 ED traffic injury visits involved alcohol while only 418 involved cannabis (of nearly 800,000). See Table 1. AND: "Almost half (178, 41.8%) of cannabis-involved traffic injury ED visits also had documented alcohol involvement."

Of course, there are all sorts of measurement challenges in this kind of work, as well as "use rate" baselines and COVID era complication and lots more. But what I find staggering is that in Canada ("where pot is legal everywhere"), on average over 12 years, out of roughly 66,000 ED traffic injury visits yearly, only around 20 involved cannabis alone whereas 31x as many, roughly 620 yearly, involved alcohol.

Thanks for sharing the link and data that, as I read it, reinforces Beth's point.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 5, 2023 9:45:37 AM


1. Huh? No, I didn’t fall for the sales pitches but tens of millions did. You and your ilk sat around singing, “Big Rock Candy Mountains,” for a generation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6F0IhdaaWI

That’s the point. The cops don’t all have wooden legs nor the dogs rubber teeth.

2. What point of Beth’s does it strengthen? That anal cancer is OK because it is not pancreatic cancer?

You seem to ignore some things in your attempt to make a point, as well. For example, it’s much more difficult to identify marijuana intoxication or when a driver is using both.

Only a lawyer trying to be slick could turn that article into a pro-marijuana piece.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 1:45:06 PM

1. I'm quite sure what you are saying here, Master Tarls, but I know you do not want to talk about alcohol reform. But that the source of my core perspective: I believe ending alcohol prohibition ultimately did more good than harm, and I hope that marijuana reforms will do the same. I am not sure what "ilk" you have in mind, but I am pretty sure I have never sung "Big Rock Candy Mountains." I have a terrible singing voice, so there are few ilk that want to sing anything with me.

2. Beth made the statement she'd rather be driven around by a person who had smoked pot than by a drunk person. You said she was wrong, and then you pointed to data from Canada you called "staggering." But that data show drunk drivers had 31 times as many serious car injuries in Canada than those who smoked pot. You seem to think reading and understanding data is some kind of "trick," whereas I think it is an example of actually trying to understand facts in the world. In other settings (and perhaps here), you do not ever read the data being discussed or understand its context or menaing because your ideology seems preclude you from even considering any data other than what confirms your prejudices.

I never claimed the study you linked is a "pro-marijuana piece." I walked you through the data in the research that suggests Beth's point seems more right than wrong. And I did not ignore anything, as I noted that "there are all sorts of measurement challenges in this kind of work, as well as 'use rate' baselines and COVID era complication and lots more."

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 5, 2023 3:01:07 PM

1. We discussed this ad nauseum in the past and you still haven’t accounted for the fact that one was previously legal with a long history in our culture, even back to Europe. Pot had no such history. Taking alcohol away was like trying to take guns. By legalizing pot, you are giving it that same cultural foothold. Every OD, case of schizophrenia caused by it, etc., is on your heads.

2. I don’t understand data? 😂 Well, please then, Mr. Law Professor, how does there being more drunk people on the roads mean that a high individual is more safe if you are in the car with him? The article never says driving high is safer than driving drunk. Never. It’s merely the data saying more people drive drunk than high.

And the “measurement challenges,” are ignored by you. People that are high, or high and drunk, may not get counted as high or added only to the “drunk” data. In other words, there are more people driving high than are being counted. You have zero curiosity about that.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 5:25:16 PM


From the article:

“Because of the way that cannabis impacts driving performance — it reduces reaction time, decreases the ability to focus or pay attention to multiple events, and may increase risk-taking behaviour — people who are cannabis-impaired while driving may be driving faster, noticing hazards later, and deaccelerating slower … a recipe for getting into more severe traffic collisions and requiring higher levels of care,” Myran said in an email.“

How does that compare with Beth’s statement?:

“… I would choose the pot smoker who would drive slowly and maybe pull over and have a nap vs. someone who was drunk who may be generally agitated and aggressive.”

Drive slowly? Pull over? Have a nap? Does that line up with the above paragraph from the article? How does it make Beth’s point, “more right than wrong?”

Beth is repeating another line given to us for years by you and your pro-pot ilk. That pot is safer. Nothing says or even implies it. You are continuing to sell, “The Big Lie.”

Who is it that is only seeing data that confirms his prejudices? It’s clearly you. You will go even a step further and make it up.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 5:44:15 PM

1. Again, I agree alcohol and marijuana are different in lots of ways. As I said before, I talk at length about how marijuana is a sui generis drug. But there are still lessons to learn from even very imperfect comparisons.

2. I'd be eager to talk more about the research study referenced in in the CNN article. The peer-reviewed research, not a quote in a CNN article. (And I thought you did not trust the media.)

Do you want to actually discuss the underlying research data? I fear you have not read it because you are not accurately discussing any of its particulars and you have a history of not reading research posted here before making inaccurate statements about that research. I will link the article you claimed had "staggering" numbers relative to Beth's point again: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2808961. Have you yet read the article in full?

You assert: "It’s merely the data saying more people drive drunk than high." But that is not what the study is about, nor is there any data on that issue that I see. As the title notes, the study is about "Traffic Injury Emergency Department Visits." We would need to know more about who's driving high and drunk to use the data in the study to reach a firm view on relative safety. This is what I made clear when I noted the need for "'use rate' baselines." Rough surveys from Canada suggest that about four times as many Canadians drink regularly as use marijuana regularly. But, again, the ED data in the study shows NINE times the ED alcohol rate even in the year with the highest number of cannabis ED visits. Of course, use rates do not tell us about impaired driving rates, but that is why studies here are so hard to parse to reach firm views. (Also, cannabis is used more by younger folks who are even more traffic prone even when sober.)

I have lots of "curiosity" about all this data, and I have both lectured and spoken to the media extensively about the challenges of parsing data on impaired driving. An additional factor is that alochol is often consumed in bars so that people drive home impaired more than they will drive while high. Controlling not just for the number of different types of impaired drivers, but also for length (and time) of driving is part of the complicted issues here.

But, to keep it simple, when Beth said she's rather be with a high driver than a drunk driver, you claimed she was wrong by citing to a study with data showing that, over more than a decade, roughly 30 times as many trips to the emergency room were the result of alcohol as compared to marijuana. I am not saying that data conclusively proves Beth's point, but it hard to see how the data shows she is wrong. But I welcome hearing more about how you think the actual data in the research article supports your effort to contradict Beth.

3. Please note any data that you think I "make up." I always try to read and understand and fairly present data. If you can cite any example of where I "make up" data, I would like to see it. I know you use a made up name because you are unwilling to be held accountable for what you write here, but please hold me accountable for making up data. Examples?

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 5, 2023 6:05:20 PM


You love to press forward and hope asked questions get forgotten…

I put a quote from the CNN piece directly above Beth’s statement, a statement which you supported.

Does the paragraph support or refute Beth’s statement?

Isn’t Beth’s statement a held long position repeated incessantly by you and your pro-pot, pro-schizophrenia ilk?

I’ll be happy to answer the rest of your comment, but not until you address above.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 6:31:32 PM

Beth said: "If I had to choose between riding home with someone who was drunk vs. someone who had smoked pot I would choose the pot smoker who would drive slowly and maybe pull over and have a nap vs. someone who was drunk who may be generally agitated and aggressive." I read that statement as Beth's opinion that she'd rather ride home with a pot smoker than a drunk because she thought the pot smoker would be a calmer driver than a drunk would be. The CNN quote by Dr. Myran is his speculation about why some cannabis users "may" get into crashes. But that quote does not speak in any direct way to whether, as a general matter, a pot smoking driver is likley to be safer or more dangerous than a drunk driver.
Moreover, you said "the numbers are staggering" when you said Beth was wrong and cited to a report on Dr. Myran's study. I looked at the numbers in the actual study, and I explained to you why I thogh the "numbers" in the underlying article provided some comparative data that actually seemed to support Beth's notion that she's be safer riding with the pot smoker than the drunk.

As a general matter, data from the dozens of studies I have seen on these topics supports the claim that driving after marijuana use is not as safe as driving sober. I tell people that and have done panels for students with speakers making that point. But the data on whether riding with a pot smoker is as dangerous as riding with a drunk is much less clear. As I mentioned before, one challenge in assessing this comparative matter concerns miles driven and different driver populations. And what really struck me in looking at the data Dr. Myran reported was how few marijuana ED visits there were compared to alcohol ED visits. Ergo my view that Dr. Myran's "numbers" supported Beth's comparative point.

Have you read the underlying research? We you aware of the numbers therein when you said "the numbers are staggering"? I welcome hearing a different account of the data, as there is a lot in the research paper and I might well be missing something.

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 5, 2023 9:30:00 PM

But what in the article made you believe Beth’s assertion was “more right than wrong?” If nothing in the article supports that hypothesis, why are you more inclined to take hers over a professional?

Oh, that’s right, it’s not “clear.” You then move on to admit why it’s not clear but still support her position based on data that doesn’t support it, ignoring that the professional’s “speculation,” is at least based on knowledge in the field, unlike Beth’s. Who is that picking and choosing what to believe based on preference?

The higher number of people driving drunk has no relevance to who is safer, a drunk or sober driver.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Dec 5, 2023 10:54:24 PM

MasterTarls, you said Beth was wrong by citing a CNN article about a research study and saying the "numbers are staggering." You still have not answered if you actually looked at the numbers in the research study. Have you? Did you look at these numbers before saying the "numbers" showed Beth was wrong?

Because I was interested in the "numbers" you referenced, I looked up the research study and examined the "numbers." Doing so, I was struck by how few cannabis ED cases and how many alcohol ED cases were documented in the "numbers." And so, I explained why, as I read the "numbers" in the research study you referenced, I thought the data in that study actually reinforced Beth's point. In my explanation, I readily acknowledged that I recognized "there are all sorts of measurement challenges in this kind of work, as well as 'use rate' baselines and COVID era complication and lots more."

I do not know if you have actually reviewed the "numbers" you referenced, but I do know you have yet to provide any alternative accounting of the "numbers" that you called "staggering." Now you have been pivoting to a email statement by one of the researchers in the CNN article. That statement is, in my view, generally sound, but it does not speak directly or even indirectly to the "numbers" and how the data in the research study reflects on Beth's notion about the comparative riskiness of riding with a pot smoker or a drunk. I am not "picking and choosing" here, rather I am giving my read on the "numbers" in the research study you referenced --- a study which shows a stunningly high rate of drunk driving ED visits relative to cannabis ED visits in part of Canada over the long period studied.

If you have read the research article, do you have a different account its "numbers" --- which seem to report that, over more than a decade in Canada, roughly 30 times as many trips to the emergency room were the result of alcohol-impared driving as compared to marijuana-impaired driving? It is possible that drunks drove 30 times as many miles as pot smokers over this period, but that seems to me unlikely given reported use rates in Canada. But firm data can be elusive on all these fronts; again, as I said at the very start when discussing the "numbers" you referenced, "there are all sorts of measurement challenges in this kind of work, as well as 'use rate' baselines and COVID era complication and lots more."

To review: this part of the discussion started when you cited research and said "the numbers are staggering." I looked at the numbers in the research study you referenced, thanked you for the reference, and gave my take on the data. You seem now disinterested in discussing the "numbers" in the research study you referenced, perhaps because you still have not had time to review the data. That's fine, but if someone cites "numbers" to support a point, I often will try to make the time to look at those numbers to see what they say. I explained how I read those "numbers" here, and I continue to be interested in hearing if you have another account for those numbers. Do you?

Posted by: Doug B | Dec 5, 2023 11:25:12 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB