Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jul 2012
Source: Brattleboro Reformer (VT)
Copyright: 2012 Brattleboro Publishing Co.


Every day we hear of atrocities committed in Mexico related to the 
illegal drug trade.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are locked up behind bars for 
nothing more than possessing an illegal drug.

College students have lost federal aid because they toked on a joint.

Substance abusers can't get the help they need to kick their habits 
because more than a trillion dollars has been spent on prohibition 
since Pres. Nixon declared the war on drugs.

Now add a few more causalities to the list: Those who have been 
seriously injured or killed by synthetic marijuana, which can cause 
elevated body temperature and blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, 
heart attack, seizures, suicidal ideation, paranoia, hallucinations, 
psychotic episodes, organ failure and death.

Synthetic marijuana is available on the web and in stores around the 
country where it's sold as ... OK, don't laugh ... incense, spice or potpourri.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison 
Data System reported 2,906 calls related to synthetic marijuana 
products in 2010.

In 2011, that number increased to 6,959 and in the first four months 
of this year, 2,289 calls have already been received.

What's been the government's response to this growing epidemic? Make 
a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. And 
dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw 
fake marijuana.

Unfortunately, the bans haven't accomplished much.

"Anybody with a working knowledge of chemistry, or that can follow a 
simple set of directions, can obtain and mix these substances and 
create these compounds," James Burns, a special agent with the Drug 
Enforcement Administration, told NPR.

To get around the laws, the nefarious geniuses designing synthetic 
drugs just tweak the molecular signature of the compounds they are creating.

Let's face it. The war on drugs has been an expensive, abject failure.

As Danny Kushlick of the Guardian said "The war on drugs has brought 
only casualties. The illegal trade is booming and drugs are cheaper 
and more available than ever. There are other ways to deal with this."

Though his policy indicates otherwise, during a recent meeting of the 
Organization of American States, Obama said "I think it is entirely 
legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are 
ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places."

Obama has also said that talking about legalization should be part of 
that conversation, but his actions speak louder than words. Witness 
the crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries around the country.

We have maintained in previous editorials that the majority of the 
problems associated with illegal drugs is not due to the drug itself, 
but to the fact that they are illegal. Yes, there are many substances 
that are harmful to health, but the damages caused by illegal drugs 
can't compare to those caused by alcohol, tobacco and prescription 
drugs used for other-than-prescribed uses.

We standby our belief that all drugs should be legalized, strictly 
controlled, taxed and limited to those 21 and older.

We also believe that the money spent on the war on drugs and 
incarcerating people for non-violent drug offenses would be better 
spent on treatment for these who seek it.

The war on drugs has been waged for the past 50 years. It's had its 
chance. It's time to try something different.
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