Drug legalization – For, against, and in between options

gavelA recent assembly bill in California is the latest legal proposal that the state begin to regulate, and collect taxes, on marijuana. This is one of the first bills for drug legalization we’ve had in a while. Most of my readers probably assume that I believe drugs have no place in our society, but this sort of assessment would be far from true. As I’ve pointed out in numerous posts on here, only a relatively small percentage of people that try drugs get addicted to them. In fact, I believe that education and regulation, rather than outright criminalization, may end up being our best solution.

Still, unlike many, I’m not ready to jump the gun yet. I think the issue should be studied scientifically, carefully, and that the results should guide our decisions. It is very possible that legalization would greatly increase the drug use problem in the US. The two most commonly used, and abused, drugs in the U.S. are currently tobacco and alcohol, the two widely-available legal drugs;  the third in-line is marijuana, which enjoys a near-decriminalized status in a number of states. I don’t think this is a coincidence, and neither do a whole bunch of other smart people (look here for a nice overview of both-sides of this argument, and here for a RAND report).

Still, it’s also possible that drug legalization wouldn’t produce those results, and there’s little doubt in my mind that decriminalization would alleviate many of the common problems that currently go hand-in-hand with drug use: Crime, violence, accidental poisoning, etc. I also believe that if the drugs were legal, the reduction in stigma, health-care coverage, and the availability of far better research could possibly help us in better treating addicts.

The bottom line is that we don’t know and that unless we examine every solution, we’re most likely to miss some opportunities. I also don’t think that outright legalization or the current, harsh, penalties are the true answer. I think that being dogmatic about either position is going to leave us with half-measures, and we don’t want that. It also leaves us with unrealistic solutions – For instance, complete drug legalization is simply not going to happen, which leaves questions as to age limits, use restrictions, and dispensation that unless answered make the debate a purely theoretical one.

In addition to the above link about the bill, there’s a group of law enforcement officials that believes in the repeal of drug prohibition, and not because they use drugs themselves. Just to be fair, the US department of justice has put out a publication speaking out against drug legalization.

Again, if I’ve learned anything in my studies is that a more refined compromise is probably our best actual solution. Still, coming to this agreement will require a lot of work on both sides.

About Addiction: Kombucha, Alcoholism, Drug Crime, mental health, and the Law

These are the newest links about alcohol, drug crime and mental health. Let us know what you think and leave us your feedback!

Kombucha, Alcohol content, and teens

The New York Times: Some Kombucha drinks may have elevated alcohol content, with specific varieties reaching as high as 3% alcohol by volume, as high as some beers, and much higher than the legal limit on non-alcoholic drinks of 0.5%.

preventionworksct: Hospital emergency room visits linked to underage drinking almost double during the July 4 holiday weekend. Daily underage drinking-related visits are 87 percent higher during the July 4 holiday weekend than on an average day in July.

Caron: Good intentions of parents may unintentionally contribute to teenage alcohol abuse when mixed messages are presented. An expert suggests that substance abuse should be discussed before a kid reaches his or her teens.

Science Daily: Teens tend to increase their alcohol consumption in summer. Experts suggest parents monitor their children.

Drug Crime & Law

UPI: In Mexican drug smuggle, increasingly more teenagers are used to smuggle drugs across the U.S. border into Arizona. In 2009, 130 minors were arrested while allegedly trying to smuggle drugs across the border through entry ports from Sonora, Mexico, into Arizona.

Politica AP: Since the 2006 passage of an anti-methamphetamine law, the number of crystal meth lab cleanups nationwide has decrease. Investigators link the decline to the law that made it harder to buy chemicals used in this drug production.

About addiction and mental health

Reuters: There is an association between marijuana use and increased risks of depression and anxiety disorders. It is though unclear whether marijuana use itself, or some other factor, accounts for this connection.

Health Day: What works to treat adult addicts may not work for the younger population. According to experts, illnesses that start earlier in life are harder to treat than illnesses developed during adult life.

About Addiction: Smoking, drinking and Heroin

Some great, informative articles about addiction, alcohol and smoking, as well as some about Heroin.  We also have some new sites with links listed here so give us your feedback on what you like!

Alcohol

Caron Chit Chat: According to a world renowned addiction treatment center, the female problem drinker in Dallas is most likely between the ages of 25-39, single, prefers wine and beer to hard liquor, drinks more with her girlfriends than on a date or with work colleagues and may not sleep well.

PhysOrg.com: Binge drinking can cause long lasting damage to an important area in the brains of adolescent monkeys, suggesting that binge drinking could have serious effects on memory formation in adolescents.

HealthDay: One in five college students admitted to drunk driving. Additionally, more than 40% of twenty year old adolescents rode in a car with an intoxicated driver.

Medical News Today: Young people in the two years after high school who are in romantic relationships are less likely than their peers to report heavy drinking and marijuana use. Marriage lowers the odds that people will get drunk frequently or smoke pot.

HealthDay: As teens become adults, their tendency toward impulsive behaviors decreases as well as the amount of alcohol they consume. Teenagers tend to mature as they get older as well as drink less alcohol.

SAMHSA: Around 508,000 adolescents aged 12-17 in the United States drink alcohol; 641,000 use illicit drugs; and more than 1 million smoke cigarettes on any average day. This data was conducted in a national survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Heroin

The Sydney Morning Herald: Heroin users regularly land in hospitals, and heroin use is often fatal. This study traced all hospital admissions of a group of heroin users over 10 years, to mid 2004.

REUTERS: According to the National Institute on  Drug Abuse, around 3.7 million people in the US have used heroin sometime in their lives. Prescription heroin may help addicts to stay off street drugs.

Smoking

PhysOrg.com: Increasing cigarette taxes could be an effective way to reduce smoking among alcohol or drug abusers or people with mental disorders. A ten percent increase in cigarette pricing resulted in an eighteen percent decline in smoking among alcohol or drug abusers or individuals with mental disorder.

REUTERS: Tobacco companies and retailers say in a lawsuit that anti-smoking signs in New York City showing a decaying tooth, diseased lungs and a damaged brain violate cigarette vendors’ free speech and should be removed.