Sunday, July 24, 2011

Legalizing Drugs: To be or Not To be?

Hello All,

Today I read an article ( about people across the nation showing up in hospitals after snorting bath salts.  Apparently they get really aggressive after the high, and the doctors have been stumped because even after administering the sedative/tranquilizer nothing has worked, and they've actually had to admit people into the psych ward for 24-48 hours to get the stuff out of their system. 

My older sister Katie and I have very different views on drugs/drug policy, and I sent her this article per our ongoing discussion.  The question being posed to her by me is simple: Are we going to outlaw bath salts now because a small group of people are using them inappropriately?

The thing is, people are always going to find ways to use drugs no matter what.  Its human nature to do the thing we're told not to do (Adam and Eve ring any bells?) Instead of making things (like bath salts) illegal to use, why not legalize them, heavily tax them, heavily regulate them (Like alcohol or prescription drugs), and in turn, make the criminal actions done by people under the influence of said stimulants not only illegal, but more harshly punished.

Yesterday, I was talking to a young man I know that just graduated from a prestigious private High School in Boise. He was an intern in my office last year, and he stopped by to say hello.  I asked him how easy it was for him to get alcohol.  He said he might be able to get his cousin to buy some for him, but his cousin lives in Wisconsin, so it's a moot point.  I then asked him how easy it was for him to get marijuana.  He said he could have some within the hour if he wanted it (he has grand political aspirations and has no interest in drugs).  All he had to do to get some pot was just make a quick phone call to some kids in his school, and voila.

If marijuana were regulated the same way alcohol, or even in a more strict way similar to prescription medications, it would be a lot harder for kids (and everyone) to get ahold of.  Plus, the taxes generated alone would help fix our failing US economy.  

I was recently in the hospital with Kidney Stones.  They gave me a huge prescription for Norco.  It made me violently sick.  So they gave me a prescription for Percocet and one for Toradol- both incredibly potent painkillers, but no one reclaimed the Norco from me.  Now, I'm not someone who abuses the system, but it made me think, how easy would it be for some unscrupulous person to go into the ER not just to get high (while I was there they kept injecting me with morphine), but to get prescriptions for drugs they could turn around and sell on the black market fairly easily?  

Strict regulation combined with stricter punishments for criminal acts under the influence of said drugs seems like a more logical way for keeping drugs away from kids than the current system.  

My sister disagrees.  Katie's tennis partner is a police woman in New England.  According to her, legalizing pot just puts more stoned people on the street – a nightmare for anyone who’s involved in public safety,0,3288424.story

Katie did say that she understood the need for a mind numbing substance for people who are dying of cancer or other painful illnesses, but she, and many like her feel that it’s a system that will be abused for sure.

Isn't it a system that is already being abused?  By legalizing marijuana will that suddenly make more people start smoking pot?  Or is it so easy to get now that the same people who would otherwise have smoked pot be the same people smoking pot after the drug is legalized- with the few exceptions of the terminally ill patients that would now be legally allowed some relief from their pain?  

I think we may see a spike in drug use followed by a steep decline once the regulations were fully in place. 

Thoughts anyone?  

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