I don’t like this Governmental bias about which controlled substances should or should not be legal. If some are legalized then I think that all should be, no exceptions. Why are some dangerous drugs, like alcohol, nicotine and some prescription drugs, okayed and accepted by the Government and Society, in general, when others, some less harmful, are not? I think it should be a matter of personal choice, just like everything else is. The excuses given for anti-legalization don’t hold up with me. “If we legalize all drugs, then everyone will want to do them and become addicts.” How absurd! Most people don’t govern their behavior according to what’s legal anyway. I don’t smoke cigarettes even though they are legal, and I wouldn’t take up heroin just because it became so. People who want to do these dangerous drugs, do them anyway, regardless of their legality.
We hear the meaningless buzz-phrase “the war on drugs” thrown around all the time, but it’s a futile battle because nobody is trying to win it. Come on, don’t you think that the Government could stop illegal drug trafficking if they really wanted to? I can’t get a little bottle of plain tap water through airport security, but people can manage to smuggle kilos of cocaine and heroin through on a daily basis! But why would they prevent the drug trade when they are being paid off by “organized crime” to keep it illegal? Legalization would destroy the black market and take away all that revenue from the crooks. It’s always about money. Why pay your local pusher $200 for an ounce of grass when you can buy a pack of 20 joints at the 7-11 for only $5?
But legalization would also encompass regulation. Safety standards would be implemented as well as cautionary health warnings on the containers. “Caution: This substance is highly addictive and has been proven to be quite injurious to your health and well-being. The manufacturers cannot be held responsible for its detrimental results. Therefore, abuse it at your own risk. Not to be sold to minors or pregnant women.” Just tell people what it is and let them govern themselves accordingly.
It seems rather hypocritical to me that alcohol is a legal substance, but it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of it. The need to drive has a much higher priority in our society than the need to drink. If it is so dangerous to drink and drive, then why it is okay to drink in the first place? Maybe it’s because alcohol has been known to muddle and confuse the senses and cloud your judgment. Marijuana, on the other hand, tends to heighten the senses and make one more alert. A stoned motorist is going to be more careful and aware about their own safety and that of their passengers and try to keep from being stopped by a law officer. They tend to be more in control with what they’re doing. A drunk driver is usually unable to keep it together even when they are trying. We are always hearing about traffic fatalities involving drunk drivers but hardly ever, if any, about those caused by drivers who were stoned on grass at the time.
Now that marijuana has been deemed beneficial for treating a number of medical ailments, like glaucoma, and has been found to relieve the nausea and discomfort associated with chemotherapy, I would think that it would be legalized for the mere reason of its medicinal benefits for a lot of people. It is certainly less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. So why are those substances still legal when they have been proven definitely to have often fatal effects with excessive use, and the non-fatal, even beneficial, marijuana is still deemed illegal in most places? What is up with that?
Again, I say, let adults be responsible for their own actions and choices in life, without arbitrary, especially Governmental, intervention. You must realize, too, that our biggest and most blatant drug-pushers are protected by the law. They are your physicians and your pharmacists. There are more people hooked on prescription drugs in this country than there are potheads. They sustain themselves on diet pills, pep pills, painkillers, stimulants, antidepressants, all sorts of potentially-addictive substances, but they’re all perfectly legal.
There was a time in our distant past when the most dangerous drugs were all legal and used by the common public on a regular basis. The taking of morphine and smoking opium was as common a practice as cigarette-smoking is today and the recent past. These and other drugs were marketed as secret “patent medicines.” This was before the Food and Drug Administration was established, and manufacturers were not required to list the ingredients of any product. So people willingly ingested these elixirs and tonics without knowing what the hell they were taking. They just knew that these medicines did indeed make them feel better, although the eventual side-effects was often addiction. Coca-Cola, or “Coke,” originally contained cocaine, hence the name. Heroin was originally introduced as a commercial cough syrup! Clueless mothers were unwittingly getting their children as well as themselves hooked, turning them into inadvertent, unaware junkies. It was this widespread addiction epidemic that eventually brought about the FDA, stricter regulations and even Prohibition.
Both TV news programs “60 Minutes” and “20/20” have recently reported about the present heroin epidemic in this country. And it’s not in the big cities’ ghettos either but in the small towns and suburban areas in states like Ohio and New Hampshire, of all places. And it’s not the older generation but high school teenagers and younger that are the primary junkies. Some athletes and others get injured and their doctors prescribe addictive pills to manage their pain. But then these kids discover that heroin is not only more available but is cheaper in the long run and provides a much better high than the pills do. And it’s so easy to come by. Those interviewed said that it was easier to get heroin right there in their little town than it was to score marijuana.
The reporter said that there are 26 deaths every day from overdoses of heroin! And that’s only those that are reported. Those distraught parents have learned not to say, “My child would never do heroin,” because they have discovered that it’s their kids who are the town junkies! They say, “But Johnny is a good kid,” as if they assumed that all drug abusers are bad people, until it’s their own “good” son or daughter who has became an addict. They all used to think that this sort of thing happens only to other people, not realizing that they, too, are “other people.”
Discarded needles and syringes are turning up just about everywhere. Young kids have found them on the playgrounds, in the parks and on the street while walking to and from school. The dealers, too, can be found everywhere, soliciting and recruiting new customers. There is an available drug called Naloxene, which can counteract the effects of a drug overdose, and now grade school kids as young as ten and eleven are being taught how to administer the drug, in case the need arises. With all that kids have to deal regarding their regular studies, now they have to worry about saving their sister or brother or parent from ODing on heroin. It certainly puts a new perspective on important parental concerns. I imagine that discovering your kid is gay is not as bad anymore as founding out that they’re a heroin addict! If you had your druthers, I guess you don’t feel so sorry for your sissy son now, do you?
The common over-the-counter cold remedy, Coricidin HBP (geared for people with high-blood pressure), which contains dextromethorphan, is not harmful if taken as directed, that is, one or two tablets at one time. Well, somebody discovered that the drug taken in large amounts carries with it hallucinogenic, mind-altering properties, and many teenagers are now taking it to get high. It’s relatively cheap, and they don’t need a prescription or a pusher to score it for them. They can just get it right off the shelf at their friendly neighborhood drug store. The kids have learned to disguise the pills as Skittles candies; there’s nothing to smoke, snort or inject, and the pills don’t make the eyes red or puffy, so their parents are none the wiser. It’s not until the reckless youngster ODs one night and has to be rushed to the hospital that their parents even realize that the kid has been doing the stuff for many months without their knowledge.
One boy on a TV news report admitted that he once had upped his dosage of 16 pills (which, in my opinion, is already ridiculously and dangerously too many) to 72 pills at one time! Of course, it almost killed him. So, you see, legalization of all drugs is not going to make things any worse than they already are. Humans can and do abuse any substance, regardless of their benefit, detriment or legality. If someone badly enough wants to kill themself in a pharmaceutical manner, there are plenty ways to do it, without breaking the law.
There was a public announcement campaign on TV, with parents trying various ways to talk to their kids about drugs. One had a mother using the “rap” approach. “Don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad…” That advice is about as valid as the “Never talk to strangers” mantra that I debunked in another article (Parenting 101). Most drugs are not bad, only just a few. So not to do any drugs whatsoever would mean to forbid all doctors from prescribing any sort of medication to their patients and to do away with pharmacies altogether. That admonition is also vague and confusing. Don’t do which drugs? Be specific. Do you mean that I shouldn’t take a Tylenol if I have a headache or some penicillin to treat my gonorrhea infection? They should either cite which specific substances that they don’t want their children to “do” or amend the advice to “Don’t abuse drugs.” The fact is, one can overdo anything, no matter how harmless, or not, it may seem. I contend that moderation is the key to personal safety and relative non-harm.
I have heard hypocritical friends and acquaintances berate your hardcore drug addicts while I watch them light up another cigarette, order yet another martini and gulp down one after another cup of coffee or can of cola. They don’t consider nicotine, alcohol, and even caffeine, potentially-dangerous drugs, because they are legal, you see. But my dictionary says that a drug is “a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” I think those three therefore qualify. The individuals who have to have coffee as soon as they get up in the morning and drink many cups of it throughout the day must be addicted to the caffeine. I can’t imagine that it’s the flavor of the coffee that they just cannot do without. I love eggnog, but I don’t have to have it all day every day.
Another TV ad shows a kid asking his parents, “Did you ever try drugs?” How can anyone answer that question truthfully in the negative? Who has not ever ingested a single drug in their entire life? What, no coffee or an aspirin? You have never puffed on a cigarette? Again, they need to specify which drugs. “Dad, have you ever done crack?” for example. I have heard of people drinking themselves to death and killing themselves with doctor-prescribed pills (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and others!), but I don’t know of anyone who ever tried to overdose to the point of death on marijuana alone. There are quicker and easier ways, to be sure.