Friday, October 9, 2015

Legalization vs. Regulation

Ending Prohibition of Drugs does not mean heroin is going to be sold over the counter. Yet most people think that's what's going to happen if we end prohibition. Think about it. We ended the prohibition on alcohol, but that doesn't mean a young kid can walk into a bar an buy a beer. Many states have legalized marijuana but that doesn't mean it's available in your grocery store. And grocery stores have been carrying a more lethal drug than heroine for decades: acetaminophen, known under the brand name Ty----l. If you OD on this drug, you die horribly as your liver dies over the next three days. It's a brutal way to go, and it's responsible for more deaths every year than heroin.

Legalizarion does not mean unregulated. We regulate all drugs and we use all drugs in science and medicine already. We do this through the scheduling of drugs. We could easily reduce the classes from five to two prescription-ready class and less for non-lethal drugs like marijuana and marijuana concentrates. Yes, you can OD on marijuana, but the worst thing that happens is a seizure (also known as "falling out"), the OD itself does not cause death. Our endocrine systems require cannabinoid chemicals to function. This part of the endocrine system is called the endocannabinoid system as a result.

Peter Crist wisely said: "You can recover from an addicion. You cannot recover from a conviction. And admitting you're an addict means you're admitting to being a felon." so true. The only addition I could make is thank the stars for Alchoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and bless the alcoholics/addicts they serve. We woke up from the prohibition on alcohol in 13 years. We've had this crazy "War on Drugs"for 44. The lifting of the prohibition of marijuana is a good start.

The DEA could remain, and simply refocus its efforts: away from prohibition and move to regulation. We have a federal bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The FDA could move its doctors to the DEA and focus on Food and Over-The-Counter medication (and imagine the amazing food safety to follow!) No jobs need be lost, and we'd probably see a boon to our economy on a number of fronts (just look at Colorado for an excellent example of regulation of marijuana and they just extended buying hours!), most of all, relief for millions of pain patients, their doctors, and our hospitals who are prosecuted and persecuted excessively under our current system.

Ending prohibition does not mean a free-for-all. Remember, we are far more sophisticated than that, and we solved these problems ages ago. We just need to recognize these facts. Speaking of facts, when the first drug prohibition laws started in 1914, 1.3% of the population were addicts. And if you've been reading, you know that 1.3% of people are addicts today! That number hasn't changed since there were opium dens. Also, it means that 98.7% of people can take drugs just fine and never become addicted. control and regulation hasn't changed those numbers, but it does generate a load of revenue that is currently disappearing into the black market. If you want to improve the world, end the War on Drugs; America's Longest War.

We should not put people in prison for what they put into their bodies. We need to stop prosecuting doctors for doing their job. We should include harm-reduction policies in our laws. Treatment is possible, we know this. We also know relapse is as natural as not wanting to take a blood pressure medication. Ideas and new habits take time to set in!

Therefore, I will keep shouting this from the rooftops as long as necessary.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has a number of excellent videos if you want to find out more. Jack Cole's 12-minute talk is amazing— he was a narcotics agent at the beginning of the War on Drugs in 1970.

No comments:

Post a Comment