25 May 2009

Legalizing Drugs.

Ok, let's hear your opinion. I'm not sure about mine.

Ideally, no one would be want to be drinking so much alcohol that they could roll around and puke, pass out and/or drive into some innocent person. I think of alcohol as a drug with risks and benefits, just like (for instance) Prozac and Tylenol. So, sure, if your doctor tells you to have a glass of wine with your dinner for some health benefit, you would do so. Or you would self-medicate a certain amount for your health in the same way that most of us sane people might occasionally take a Tylenol for a headache.

I'd like to think that most people are reasonable people, but I've been to college.

No, I don't mean that you need to be more educated to understand the risks of overconsumption; I just mean "I've been to college." Heavy drinking happens on just about any night of the week you could imagine. It's cultural. I think I got over the whole novel idea of drinking alcohol as a lifestyle somewhere around my second semester as a freshman. By then, I had figured out that I could do whatever I wanted whether it was legal or not, and it got boring. Yawn.

A young man joining a fraternity was not so lucky, and died. There were a lot of factors that led to this, but let's just say that in retrospect, I don't imagine having hundreds of people fresh from Mama's house and supervision, suddenly living all together in their own community of peers is such a hot idea. These are the same "kids" who, just a few months before, had to ask permission to go potty at school. Maybe that's just me thinking aloud... but there seems no middle ground between kindergarteners and high school seniors in terms of freedoms granted/ responsibility learned in public school. (Ok, driving to school doesn't really count if the students are not allowed to leave campus all day. Sorry.)

Back to the subject...

I don't imagine the solution would be to have Big Brother telling me how many bottles of cough syrup I can buy at the pharmacy in case I have a drug habit. I mean, that's like Home Depot forbidding me from buying a hammer in case I murder someone with it later, you know? All right, bad analogy. But I'd like to shop for a cough syrup bargain without reference to the fact that someone ELSE is shopping for this TOTALLY LEGAL product so that she can convert it to meth. See, because I thought meth was illegal? Not cough syrup... I want to buy my cough syrup and have everybody not keep records on how many I bought and my drivers' license number. I can make my own decisions about NyQuil, ok??

Here, I'm criticising the government for regulating something *I* don't have a problem with. Millions of other people DO. Maybe I should be more compassionate about those folks and just deal with a little inconvenience. It would be easier not to start. "Hugs not drugs" and "just say no" is designed for that sort of audience. But those sayings obviously wouldn't work for everyone. You tell the heroin junkie "hugs not drugs" next time he needs a fix. Bring the Care Bear bunch in and do a skit about how users are losers and see if it changes anything.

And I read stories like this and go, good gracious! How could such a thing happen? And I think somehow we have all failed this child. But I can't quite put my finger on how. Please don't interpret that statement to mean that I think the state "village" needs to raise children. I think parents should have absolute say in the raising of their children... but I have to admit that it seems terribly awful if, in the "luck of the draw," your parents are PCP-snorting crazy-o's who also inject crack on the weekends. I suppose that if the state monitored all children, that this boy could have been saved.

Then again, if the state got to decide everything and monitor everything, we'd all be doing drugs and the government would get the tax money. I'm just cynical enough to think that the government doesn't REALLY want anyone to quit smoking when there are Virginia farmers who would get upset about the impact on their business. In addition, tobacco is just such a great source of revenue! Only think how much money Uncle Sam could get if marijuana and cocaine were legalized as well.

Where am I going with this? Well, I'm not sure. I just saw that story this morning and it broke my heart. I started thinking that they need to get those drugs off the street. Then I thought about some of the methods the government would have to use to make it happen. Then I thought that if we had universal healthcare, the father would get some legal oxycontin and be relatively harmless. But I'd be payin' for his oxys.

Then I thought that maybe this dad is gonna wake out of his trip and be really sorry. Then I thought that I ought to feel sorry for him, but I'm too sorry for the little boy to do that.

I really don't know what the answers would be to problems like this. Your thoughts are appreciated. I want to hear what you think about it.

7 comments:

  1. When my dad was 13 years old, he was addicted to every drug out there. He had no mom and dad. They died when he was a little boy. He almost died from drugs several times. When he became a Christian, he instantly was healed from any desire. I know that doesn't happen for everyone. That is my dad's miracle. It's been 30 years and he's never toughed it since. Thank goodness! Sometimes though, we can teach our kids what is right but since they have their own will, they will make choices. However, this is one reason I won't support my kids going off to a campus and staying in a dorm. I will however support them financially if they will stay home and go through college. Lots of stuff goes on in dorms and I've seen lots of good kids lost to them.

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  2. I have addressed this in my blog. I lost 4 subscribers in one day. But, I haven't changed my mind. So, my daughter has fetal alcohol syndrome. Her mother consumed copious amounts of alcohol while she was pregnant and my daughter has life long brain dysfunction because of it. Alcohol is a drug and it is directly responsible for traffic deaths, health problems and, of course, FASD. The cost of alcohol addiction (both human and financial) is staggering. And, I still don't believe in prohibition. I suspect most people agree with me. After all, we were all taught in history that the US Government reversed prohibition because it was an unmitigated disaster.

    Modern day prohibition, the war on drugs, is just as much of a disaster. Every argument used to end prohibition applies to the war on drugs. And, you can't tell me that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. It just isn't. Some drugs are, but none of them can cause any more damage than is accepted from alcohol. Besides, if Congress had to come to Americans and ask for money to fund pet projects... instead of just printing the money or borrowing it from foreign countries... I bet many people, as they prioritized what they wanted funded and what they didn't want funded, would just say no to spending $20 billion per year to keep adults from using drugs. And that is only the direct costs. Whenever we lock up a father we create a single female head of house with all the poverty and state assistance that goes with it. We pay for health care for an addict who gets HIV from an infected needle. All those "hidden" costs aren't even counted in that initial $20 billion figure.

    And the truth? Before the war on drugs 1 in 10 Americans were addicted to drugs. What have we gotten for all the money we have spent? Well, 1 in 10 Americans are still addicted to drugs. It doesn't seem that we are getting our monies worth. At the very least, if we are going to be a police state and force adults to make good choices, we should include alcohol and tobacco in the war. Oh, and my doctor better lock me up too. I have some weight to lose.

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  3. Great post! My husband is a police officer, and we both believe in drug legalization (or at least decriminalization). Yes, even for the "hard" stuff. We see too many law enforcement officers dying fighting the drug trade when, sadly, it's not going to change -- there's too much profit. They arrest one dealer and two more take his place. I guess I think the best answer is for the government to step out of the Big Brother role and work on facilitating education and rehabilitation.

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  4. I suspect a driver high on marijuana is a lot safer than a drunk driver (Nat'l Geo did a special on that last month.) And I would rather live next door to a guy who smokes a joint on the weekends than a violent felon let out early to make room for the mandatory minimum folks. I don't know too much about this, but it seems silly to treat a "soft", relatively harmless drug like pot similar to something like heroin. I think Massachusetts took a step in the right direction: decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and punishing with a civil fine. The amount of money and resources devoted to the war on drugs is insane - not to mention the underground drug-related violence it fuels. If every drug was legalized, I'm sure there would be a few years of adjustments, but the long-term result would likely resemble something like the Netherlands: reduced use of "hard" drugs, more people seeking help with addiction, and less crime.

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  5. I would love to be able to buy cough syrup without being made to feel as if I am a felon as well! I would be happy to see the legelization of marijuana. Place a high tax on it-I think we as a country would be in a better financial situation. Drugs are everywhere-not just college campuses. This is a reality I have to face in raising my kids. I have to raise them to be responsible.

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  6. I do not believe it is possible to legislate morality.

    However, when people do things that are wrong--hurt others, for example--then we should take appropriate measures.

    Hmm... here's an idea: Trying to stop someone from doing something wrong by making it illegal to do something bad--and thereby try to stop them from purchasing too much cough medicine--is like trying to preempt crime along the lines of Minority Report: Which, as we see, fails.

    ~Luke

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  7. i was born in germany and have heard that the rate of alcoholism in europe is way lower than here, where it is regulated. in europe, kids can sample alcohol and it's no big deal. here, i take a photo of my kid holding an empty beer can and the state comes knocking on my door (not really!). mrs. c ... come friend me on facebook ... kerrie mcloughlin. also, i gotta get your email address to write you back sometimes! you are a hoot!

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)