[singlepic id=471 w=90 h=90 float=left]When people talk about „drugs,“ they are typically referring to either A) a substance used as a medication or B) something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness. Unfortunately, in the debate on the „Legalization of Drugs,“ our leaders have ignored Websters Definitions of the term Drug and instead, focused on the term Illegal.
This creates a society where marijuana, a naturally occurring, non addictive substance, containing the mood altering „drug“ THC is illegal. While coffee, a naturally occurring and addictive substance, containing the mood altering „drug“ caffeine, is consumed in large quantities by virtually every adult in the United States.
Statistics show that marijuana and caffeine have about the same amount of crime associated with their use. Most of this crime happens as these “drugs” come across our borders, where gangs and cartels vie for control. Compare this to the 4 in 10 convicted murderers being held either in jail or in State prison, for whom alcohol use is reported to have been a factor in the crime. Nearly half of those convicted of assault and sentenced to probation had been drinking when the offense occurred.
So why is marijuana illegal and alcohol legal? This is a good question that deserves a good answer. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that marijuana is relatively easy to grow by anyone and alcohol production and distribution is conducted by big business. Big businesses who make significant campaign contributions. Or, it could be the massive amounts of state and federal revenue that are generated by the tax on alcohol.
Interestingly enough, the negative social consequences of alcohol abuse have been shown to cost far more than the revenues generated by the taxes on alcoholic beverages. A counterpoint to this is the massive cost of apprehending, prosecuting and incarcerating persons involved in marijuana possession. These same people, if left alone, would generate virtually no crime or significant costs to society.
When engaging in a debate about the „Legalization of Drugs,“ the negative or positive impact on society from the resulting policies, would seem to be the chief public interest. If our first concern is for the wellbeing of our society, with a 2nd and equal interest in the well being of the individuals involved in drug use, we should be able to determine appropriate policies by an objective analysis of observed and projected consequences.
If we are truly objective, we must also confront the rampant abuse of both prescription and over the counter drugs. These drugs are responsible for an exponentially greater negative impact on society overall, including a much greater incidence of addiction and abuse than marijuana.
Most politicians are loath to ask tough questions about prescription drug abuse or compare the cost of this abuse to marijuana. As with alcohol abuse, this is likely do to millions of dollars in pharmaceutical lobbying money and the perceived economic benefits the production and distribution of these drugs have for their constituents.
As we gain new insights into the facts concerning drug abuse, including the abuse of currently legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine as well as prescription and over the counter drugs, we should challenge ourselves to strive for honesty and the development of drug policies that truly serve the greater good, not simply the interests of big business and the status quo. My hope is that our country will one day be led by a group of politicians who are fearless and honest enough to address this important issue.