D.C. Pretrial Services, the organization which monitors defendants between arrest and trial, announced yesterday that beginning on January 1, 2012, it will no longer test for marijuana. (Unless specifically requested by the Court, and the Court has been told they are discouraged to do this).
Why the change? It’s not because Pretrial has woken up to the fact that urine testing for marijuana is a waste of resources. The reason for dropping marijuana testing is that Pretrial was spending so much $ testing for pot, that it was forced to cut treatment programs for hard drugs.
According to D.C. Pretrial Services residential slots for those addicted to serious narcotics will be cut 12% immediately. Residential stays for hard-core drug users will now be limited to 30 days maximum, no matter how the patient is progressing. (Michael McGuinness can still approve exceptions on a case-by-case basis).
For those who need (and request) outpatient treatment for addiction to cocaine and heroin, D.C. Pretrial Services announced that budget restrictions have caused the elimination of all new placements to outpatient contract treatment centers.
Even the highly successful PSA STARS program will be cut. Pretrial Services announced that it stopped placing outpatient defendants in PSA STARS due to over-crowding.
With all these cuts, Pretrial Services warned D.C. judges that there may be longer than usual delays in placing defendants in residential treatment programs, due to fewer slots being available.
While it’s great that Pretrial Services will no longer screen for marijuana January 1, 2012, the announced cuts in drug treatment is troubling. People are going to have to decide where to spend law enforcement dollars. Hassling harmless marijuana smokers, or providing treatment for people likely to do harm, heroin, cocaine and PCP abusers.