NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — One of the claims by those advocating marijuana legalization is that smoking grass does not lead to the violent behavior associated with drinking alcohol. They instead ascribe qualities to marijuana smoking of soothing the savage beast in humans.

For example, the Marijuana Legalization Organization states on its website, "We currently spend billions of dollars every year to chase peaceful people who happen to like to get high."

But a 2004 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, strongly contradicts this notion of a nonviolent world of marijuana smoking. The report studied marijuana use and delinquent behavior among youth . What the researchers determined was that frequency of marijuana use by youths is associated with delinquent behavior.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health surveyed youths ages 12 to 17 in 2002. It asked them about six delinquent behavioral activities:

  • engaged in serious fighting
  • engaged in group-against-group fighting
  • attacked someone with the intent to seriously hurt them during the past year
  • stole or tried to steal something worth more than $50
  • sold illegal drugs
  • carried a handgun during the past year

What they learned was that "the percentages of youths engaging in delinquent behaviors in the past year rose with increasing frequency of marijuana use." Problem behavior of all sorts is correlated with smoking grass . For all of the delinquent behaviors reviewed the percentage of the youths engaging in this activity rose with the increase in marijuana usage.

Specifically the report noted the following: "4 million youths (16% of those aged 12 to 17) used marijuana in the past year; approximately 21% of youths (5 million) engaged in serious fighting at school or work, almost 16% (4 million) took part in a group-against-group fight, and almost 8% (2 million) attacked someone with the intent to seriously hurt them during the past year. Nearly 5% of youths (1.2 million) stole or tried to steal something worth more than $50, more than 4% (1.1 million) sold illegal drugs, and more than 3% (800,000) carried a handgun during the past year."

Some 16% of the youths surveyed, between 12 and 17 years of age, reported using marijuana in the prior year. The breakdown in frequency was:

  • 38% used marijuana on 1 to 11 days
  • 21% used on 12-49 days
  • 9% used on 50-99 days
  • 23% used on 100-299 days
  • 9% used marijuana 300 or more days

SAMSHA is not alone in its findings. The British Journal of Psychiatry published a study in 2006 by some Dutch researchers, affiliated with the Trimbos Institute (Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction) in Utrecht. This study concluded that "[i]n a country with a liberal drug policy like The Netherlands, cannabis use is associated with aggression and delinquency, just as in other countries."