I was never a social drinker. My motivation for drinking was to change the way I was felt. My experience with drugs was the same; so it shouldn’t surprise you that I haven’t tried a mind-altering substance I didn’t like. I am not against drugs and alcohol. I am just against drugs and alcohol for me.
Here is my problem. Marijuana seems to be the cool thing lately. More and more states are starting to loosen their laws. If marijuana is cool, and I want to be cool, maybe I should be a pro-legalizing person. But, I am sober, and that kind of thinking seems a little like justifying to me. And, I know where that can take me.
I wanted to learn about the negative side of legalizing drugs, so I went to the DEA website. The Drug Enforcement Agency knows a lot about drugs. Here are some facts I got from their website:
Legalization advocates claim that the fight against drugs has not been won and is, in fact, unwinnable. They frequently state that people still take drugs, drugs are widely available, and that efforts to change this are futile. They contend that legalization
is the only workable alternative. The facts are contrary to such pessimism.
Fact 1: Significant progress has been made in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America.
A successful drug policy must apply a balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment. All three aspects are crucial. For those who end up hooked on drugs, there are innovative programs, like drug courts, that offer non- violent users the option of seeking treatment.
Fact 2: A balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment are the keys in the fight against drug abuse.
There is a popular misconception that some illegal drugs can be taken safely, with many advocates of legalization going so far as to suggest it can serve as medicine to heal anything from headaches to bipolar diseases. Many of today’s drug dealers are savvy businessmen, and know how to capitalize on declining perceptions of risk associated with drug use
Fact 3: Drug use is regulated and access to drugs is controlled because drugs can be harmful.
According to the Institute of Medicine, there is no future for smoked marijuana as medicine. However, the prescription drug Marinol—a legal and safe version of medical marijuana which isolates the active ingredient of THC—has been studied and approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe medicine when used as prescribed. The difference between Marinol and marijuana is that you have to get a prescription for Marinol from a licensed physician—you can’t buy it on a street corner, and you don’t smoke it.
Fact 4: Smoked marijuana has never been and will never be scientifically approved medicine.
Legalization advocates claim that the United States has wasted billions of dollars in its anti-drug efforts. But for those saved from drug addiction, these are not wasted dollars. Moreover, our fight against drug abuse and addiction is an ongoing struggle that should be treated like any other social problem. Would we give up on education or poverty simply because we haven’t eliminated all the problems we have with them?
Fact 5: Drug control spending is a minor portion of the U.S. budget. Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction, government spending on drug control is minimal.
Legalization proponents claim that making illegal drugs legal would not cause more of these substances to be consumed, nor would addiction increase. They claim that many people can use drugs in moderation and that many would choose not to use drugs, just as many abstain from alcohol and tobacco now. Yet how much misery can already be attributed to alcoholism and smoking?
Fact 6: Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction.
Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs than by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren’t committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they’re committed by people on drugs.
The Harvard economist explains why legalizing all drugs—including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine—would be a better policy than the current prohibition.
Fact 7: Crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand.
The “legalization lobby” claims drugs are no more dangerous than alcohol, no more harmful than smoking cigarettes. But drunk driving is one of the primary killers of Americans. Do we want our bus drivers, nurses, and airline pilots to be able to take drugs one evening, and operate freely at work the next day? Do we want to make “drugged” driving another primary killer?
Fact 8: Alcohol and tobacco have caused significant health, social, and crime problems, and legalized drugs would only make the situation worse.
The “legalization lobby” claims that the “European model” of the drug problem is successful. However, since legalization of marijuana in the Netherlands, heroin addiction levels have tripled. Their “Needle Park” is a poor model for America.
Fact 9: Europe’s more liberal drug policies are not the right model for America.
There is a popular myth that America’s prisons are filling up with drug users arrested for simple possession of marijuana. This is a myth. In reality, a vast majority of inmates in state and federal prison for marijuana have been found guilty of much more than simple possession, and many of those serving time for marijuana possession pled down to possession in order to avoid prosecution on more serious charges.
Fact 10: Most non-violent drug users get treatment, not jail time.
Popular myth: Legalizing and taxing marijuana will help local economies by reducing crime and increasing tax revenue.
The cost of treatment and rehabilitation from addiction and usage associated illnesses far outweighs the cost of any revenue possibly be generated; a government estimate of the cost of drug use just for one year (2002) was more than $180 billion. Regulation hasn’t kept prescription drugs, alcohol, or tobacco from being abused. The excise taxes that are collected from these activities only cover a portion of the costs of their misuse.
I am glad to learn this information. But, I am going to stick to what I know, which is focusing on people who need help because of drug addiction, mental disorders and/or alcoholism. The bottom line: if you smoke pot and it does not affect my life, then it’s none of my business. If you need help, then I am here for you.