Pubdate: Thu, 10 Mar 2016
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.


'Getting High' May Be Fun, but It's Destructive, and Inevitably Everyone Pays

It's called "getting high" for a reason.

Euphoria feels good. But abusing "harmless" drugs like marijuana has 
consequences that are anything but harmless.

Drug overdose has surpassed traffic accidents as a cause of death in 
the United States; the numbers of heroin deaths in particular are off 
the charts.

Congress struggles to craft a national legislative remedy to deal 
with the scourge of drug abuse, just as several states are 
undermining the congressional effort by dealing with pot as a 
good-time treat for fun-seekers. Pot is a gateway drug, and 
legalizing it sends a mixed message that inevitably produces more misery.

Dangerous spikes in heroin deaths in the heart of Middle America, in 
places like Vermont and New Hampshire, have put drug abuse at the top 
of everybody's attention in Washington. Cheap heroin from Mexico 
boosted the number of Americans using the killer drug to 900,000, 
according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That's a 35 
percent increase in 2014 alone.

Of 47,000 overdose deaths that year, 10,600 were heroin-related and 
19,000 were the result of the abuse of opioids, such as oxycodone.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has pegged the full price tag of 
drug abuse, including the cost of health care, criminal justice and 
lost labor productivity, at $700 billion annually.

The U.S. Senate voted 86-3 this week to approve the Comprehensive 
Addiction and Recovery Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. 
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a Democrat, and Sen. Rob Portman 
of Ohio, a Republican. The legislation authorizes U.S. Attorney 
General Loretta Lynch to dispense grants to equip first responders 
with naloxone, a heroin overdose antidote; to expand prescription 
drug monitoring, and provide treatment for abusers while in jail. A 
companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by 
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican.

But will it make a difference in an America all in with the high 
life? Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of 
Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 23 states 
have approved it for "medical use," loosely defined.

Twenty other states have pot legalization initiatives ready for the 
November's ballot. Bills are pending before Congress to remove 
marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances, and grant 
to pot sellers access to banking services.

The potheads are poised to make a coordinated assault on the 
prohibitions against cannabis.

Marijuana is not an opioid, like the heroin that is killing Americans 
by the thousands, and smoking it is rarely, if ever, lethal.

But pot-lobby denials notwithstanding, it is a gateway to the 
normalization of bad drugs.

Scientific studies show that THC, the active ingredient in the drug, 
can "prime the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs," says the 
National Institute for Drug Abuse. It is still an illegal drug 
punishable by fines and incarceration in many places, according to 
the Department of Justice. Agents of the Drug Enforcement 
Administration put their lives on the line every day to interdict 
shipments of the weed from Mexico.

Embracing pot inevitably normalizes drugs for children who grow up 
watching their parents purchase a six-pack from 7-Eleven one night 
and an ounce of marijuana from the neighborhood pot shop the next, 
and look forward to joining them at age 21. One thing always leads to 
another, and this will be costly for everyone.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom