Compiled by Walter Sorochan
Posted December 20, 2010 Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.
We have been flirting for a long time with accepting the "naked" truth about illicit drug use in the United States and the world. Williams: Naked truth drugs
Hypocrisy, doctored up statistics, political cover-ups, use of fear tactics and so on. Basically not facing the reality about the failures of fighting illicit drug use. This country listened to the early 1917 advice of the advocates of the temperance union in abolishing alcohol; this legislation resulted in failure. The next big step in fighting drug use was President Nixon's "War on Drugs" legislation. Depending on whose statistics you use, this legislation has incarcerated over 50 % of all criminals in jail as drug users. This decriminalizatory legislation and drug enforcement have both failed to stop drug abuse. It is appropriate to consider drugs to be harmful, but also to view that our drug laws as much worse than drug abuse.
More recently, the issue of legalizing marijuana use has become a national debate. Regulating marijuana use is regulating behavior. One could argue that regulating such behavior is really a reflection of a failing society. This is not good legislation and not what the constitution had intended!
"Jefferson said that a government that controlled what food people could eat and the kind of medicine they took would soon try to control what people thought." McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use
We need an honest national philosophical debate about the prohibition model versus the decriminalization approach of illicit drugs, including alcoholic beverages! Not getting side-tracked with statistical evidence on drug use, hypocrisy and biased opinions. Nor just enforcing the current laws or enacting new ones. We need to step out of the current smug hypocratic comfort box and look at drugs from an entirely new perspective. This should include reviewing our current medical drug prescription legislation and PHARMA as well. We need to add to this list the issues of a failed social justice system, deregulation, review how chemical substances affect us, decriminalization and the immoral impact of drug abuse on our country. Yes, this is a big order but so is everyone's health and future!
This web-site provides information on the debate about illicit drug and substance abuse. The author, Sorochan, endeavors to present the many aspects of this debate, without taking sides. You be the judge about how we should deal with an out of control drug problem! So ..... where do we start? Back to Top
Short Past History on Regulating Illicit Drugs
The "war on drugs" has failed. Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs The USA Czar, Gil Karlikwske, has also admitted as much! Media Roots: Drug failure Mendosa: status war on drugs 2010 Putting people in jail for drug use has not stymied drug use. Passing more legislation has been a failure. Since 2000, the war against drugs has escaladed from Mexico into United States. We have had an expensive and bankrupt way of dealing with the war on drugs!
Since 2000, the drug cartels in Latin American, and especially Mexico, have
escaladed the distribution of illicit drugs into the United States and Canada.
Federal Political Policy on War on Drugs
Federal Political Policy on War on Drugs
According to a 1998 article published in the University of Chicago Law Review, the ability of law enforcement agencies to financially benefit from forfeited assets, and the provision of large block grants from Congress to fight the drug trade "have distorted governmental policy making and law enforcement." The authors [ Blumenson and Nilsen Blumenson: Govt conflict interest in drug cases ] believe that "the law enforcement agenda that targets assets rather than crime, the 80 percent of seizures that are unaccompanied by any criminal prosecution, the plea bargains that favor drug kingpins and penalize the 'mules' without assets to trade, the reverse stings that target drug buyers rather than drug sellers, the overkill in agencies involved in even minor arrests, the massive shift in resources towards federal jurisdiction over local law enforcement - is largely the unplanned by-product of this economic incentive structure." Blumenson: Hidden facts about drug legislation in USA Blumenson: Govt conflict interest in drug cases This point of view challenges the validity of government policy of war on drugs.
What is the current picture on illicit drugs?Here are some statistics to think about!
"The United States, the largest user of illicit drugs, is the appetite that sets the illicit drug industry in motion." Torruella: Judge discussion war on drugs
"Relatively few of America's estimated 80 million illegal drug users go on to commit other crimes." McNamara: Criminalization of Drug Use
Kinds of illicit substance abuse: [ illegal drug users in the United States ]
Most drug rehabilitation programs have not been successful. The success rate among substance abuse rehab programs is difficult to accurately evaluate since the majority of such rehab programs fail to provide reliable evidence-based information.
We have a culture of drug use that fails to provide social enforcement against drug use. We lack public figures as role models for our youth and society in general.
Another reason is that our educational system fails to provide adequate drug education in schools.
The United States has the second highest incarceration rate in the world. A very large portion of people who are incarcerated are imprisoned for drug-related crimes. In 1994, it was reported that the "War on Drugs" results in the incarceration of one million Americans each year. Of the related drug arrests, about 225,000 are for possession of cannabis, the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States. Wiki: War drug history in USA
Cost of fighting the war on drugs: After 40 years, the United States' "war on drugs" has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives. Drug use is rampant and violence; even more brutal and widespread. Media Roots: Drug failure LA Times: Summary Mexican efforts Mena: Narcophobia
Types of substance abuse
People use many types of drugs --- from aspirins to alcohol. Those who have socially drank beer, wine and hard liquor may be startled to discover that alcoholic beverages are drugs as well. This great variety of drugs [ chemical substances ] raises the question of just what is a drug? This section provides the scant basics of drugs and is not intended to cover the entire spectrum of drug pharmacology.
A drug is any chemical substance that, when taken into the body, produces physiological, emotional, or behavioral changes. This definition thus includes the entire spectrum of chemical substances used in the treatment of illness and for recreation or pleasure as well as street drugs; from aspirin, pain killers, anesthetics, antibiotics and antiacids to marijuana, cough syrups, morphine, soft drinks, over the counter drugs, sugar, corn syrup, coffee, chocolate bars, mescaline and methamphetamine.
Drugs that are taken for the sole purpose of altering consciousness in some way are usually referred to as psychoactive drugs. There are many types of pyschoactive drugs with a wide variety of psychological effects. Depressants [ alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, opiates ], for example, slow down body functions by depressing the central nervous system; they thus have a relaxing effect. Drugs that have an opposite effect of depressants are stimulants [ amphetamine, coffee, nicotine and cocaine ]; these speed up the activity of the central nervous system, thereby elevating mood and activity.
It would be nice if all chemical substances could be classified as either depressants or stimulants. Unfortunately, there are some chemical substances that can cause both reactions in the body. Examples include some amphetamines and cocaine, that initially stimulate the body and then later depress body functions. These dual-effect substances are difficult to classify.
Finally there are chemical substances that produce hallucinations [ LSD, peyote ] and that alter perception, mood, time sense and thought processes.
The effect drugs can have on the body depends on the dosage and biochemical individuality of the user.
All drugs can be addictive; that is, cause physical or/and psychological dependence in the user. Physical drug dependence means that the body actually adapts to the drug and makes it a part of the body's chemistry. When the user stops taking the drug, the body must adjust to a new "withdrawal situation."
There is no such thing as a safe chemical substance or drug! The world of drugs gets even more complicated when drugs are combined, thereby producing a "synergistic effect." The combined effect is greater than that of two drugs taken at separate times.
Successful Drug Legislation in the World
Europe’s most liberal drug policy has been a huge success. Not, as you might think, those hippie Dutch, but Portugal, where possession of all drugs for personal use was decriminalized in 2001. Chivers: Portugal free drug law
Decriminalization of illicit drug use and possession does not appear to lead automatically to an increase in drug-related harms. Nor does it eliminate all drug-related problems. But it may offer a model for other nations that wish to provide less punitive, more integrated and effective responses to drug use. Hughes: Learning from Portugal
The Naked Truth About Drugs[ Excerpted from Gibson: drug program truth ] Williams: Naked truth drugs
Debate Arguments for fixing current drug legislation
Additional Pros and Cons of this debatehave been summarized in: Wiki: Pros & Cons drugs Solivetti: Italian viewpoint StoptheDrugWar: Argentina-Mexico legislation Mena: Narcophobia
National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 Official Summary:
This act is merely going to review and make recommendations about the Justice System of United States. It is not decriminalizing drug use.
5/6/2010--Reported to Senate amended. National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2010 - Establishes the National Criminal Justice Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of all areas of the criminal justice system, including federal, state, local, and tribal governments' criminal justice costs, practices, and policies. Directs the Commission to:
Putting ALL issues in perspective:
It is impossible to review all the information on the debate about decriminalization and prohibition of chemical substances and illicit drugs on this web-site. You can find a lot of additional information about the drug use issues on the internet and your local library. Hopefully a small amount of information on these issues may be enough to start you thinking and provide fuel for debating with others. There are other related issues that have been overlooked by debating authors, like the moral impact of drug abuse on society and that everyone can get a natural hormone high that is better and safer than the chemical high from illicit drugs.
Moralityis a system of rules that regulate our behavior and conduct in social situations. It's about the doing of "good" instead of "harm," “right” instead of “wrong” and “good” instead of “bad." Morality defined
Morality of drug abuse is scarcely mentioned in the debate arguments. Morality is an important and very sensitive issue; much like a older person assumed to be knowledgeable when not ... but given the power to make behavioral decisions over teen-agers who may be more knowledgeable. So let us take time-out and briefly review the morality of drug abuse.
Morality is not about the temperance movement, prohibition or decriminalization of drugs. Morality is a system of rules that regulate our behavior and conduct in social situations. Moralization is the process through which preferences and behaviors are converted into values, both in individual lives and at the level of culture. It is about the affect drug abuse of a few persons can have on society and the moral fiber of justice, honesty, truth, freedom and liberty for everyone in a country. It is about whether drug abuses really solve the personal problems of people. Most important, the issue of "drug use" morality is covered up, distorted by mass media and politically supressed; and made not transparent in America. Morality defined
Character and the morality of citizens are important ingredients of economic growth because they go hand in hand with the great institutions of private property, democ-racy, and free markets. Historical review of the performance of the ancient economies of Athens and Sparta during the period 490-338 BC provides us with an example of how important the moral fiber of a civilization is to its wellbeing.
"Athens grew vastly wealthier than Sparta essentially because its institutions were optimally adjusted to confront the basic scarcity of grains, whereas the institutions of Sparta were optimally adjusted to sustain its military supremacy. However, in both cases, there emerged systems of morality, which secured the operating efficiency of their institutions. Both Sparta and Athens set up agoge systems, so as to infuse a compatible “ethos” into the character of their citizens along with economic prosperity." Both Greek states flourished by infusing morality into their citizens so that their civilizations would prosper. Bitros: Moraility Ancient Greece
The examples of Athens and Sparta illustrate the importance of morality to the economic survival of a country. The development of social order, and hence some form of morality, is important to the survival of all social species.
It is unfortunate that so little attention has been given to including morality in the debates about decriminalization and legitimization of illicit drugs, including legalization of marijuana.
We are born without morality. We learn values early in life from our elders. Each day as a child grows older, the child learns from its parents and other role models "right from wrong, good from bad" and these values evolve "character' in every child. Parents have an obligation to inculcate [teach] values to their children. How well a job parents do determines the character and morality of children. But parents also desperately need a motivating environment for morality support from their local community and national government. It is all of society that creates morality and not just parents. We need morality in order to keep our society from falling apart and resolve conflicts in an orderly fashion. Debaters must include morality in their debates.
Getting a Natural High
Those advocating use of marijuana and other abuse substances need to be made aware that they can get a natural high from the hormones in their own bodies; that are better and safer than what they may experience from marijuana, heroin, opium and so on. Woods: endorphins make you feel good
Indeed, your body is a chemical factory that produces its own chemical substances. For example, amphetamines mimic the action of adrenalin in the body. They cause the heart to race at high speed, increase blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate while at the same time decreasing appetite and gastrointestinal activity.
Another example is the body's ability to synthesize natural pain killers or hormones that are many times stronger and more effective than illicit drugs. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the brain [ produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus ] during certain periods [ most commonly released during periods of pain and stress ], that have effects similar to morphine and other opioid drugs.
Endorphins and other painkillers (heroin, morphine, codeine) act mostly to stop receptors from signaling severe, persistent pain. They do not cause dependence and addiction like drugs. Another significant difference is that endorphins are short-lasting unlike externally administered drugs which tend to act for long periods.
There are four kinds of endorphins and they affect the body differently. Our knowledge about pain and endorphins is incomplete -- superficial and speculative. Below is a simplistic and incomplete summary about endorphins:
Endorphins are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm. Endorphins: natural opiate pain killer Half an hour of continuous, moderately intense exercise releases endorphins. But keep in mind that individual biochemistry occurs among all of us; endorphin levels differ among people. Apart from resting levels, the amount of activity required or the duration of the response also varies tremendously.
Endorphins have many positive effects on the body and mind. When released endorphins lower blood pressure; high blood pressure is a major indicator for heart disease. Endorphins boost the immune system, slow down the aging process, and reduce pain, and anxiety.
Western medicine today focuses on relieving pain by prescribing medications. However, this practice may be soon be circumvented by the recent discovery that vitamin D in adequate amounts is a very good and safe natural pain killer. Vitamin D update
Need for drug abuse education:
Our educational system, society and parents should teach children, teens and indeed parents, how to experience the natural endorphin trip in socially appropriate and acceptable ways. Another aspect of feeling good education would be to develop positive work - job skills in adults. Indeed, adults, like addicts and strong advocates of decriminalization of drugs, should also be helped to discover the endorphin "feeling good" trip!
Getting a natural high instead of a chemical high also needs to be added to the debate about the war on drugs. Doing so would be pro-active. For more information about improving our education system:
Your feedback on this article is most appreciated. Thank you: E-mail author
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"Media Roots serves as a project to help reclaim the media and put it back into the hands of the people by conducting citizen journalism and relaying factual, impactful news. This organization also seeks to provide a forum connecting conscious citizens, artists and activists to help build upon the emerging worldwide renaissance of independent media."
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