Why Add Another Problem to the Mix?

In over twenty-five years of watching, listening, and participating in the legalization of marijuana debate, the one thing that I am never surprised at is the fact that it will never go away.  The “Quest” has been interesting in that the “facts” have not changed, ever.  Whenever a small segment of our society tires and becomes apathetic to the problems of substance abuse and the misery and cost of addiction, an even smaller segment of our society begins spinning up the propaganda machine.  This begets a response from us anti-substance abuse folks in the Government, Faith-based Institutions, and the Prevention-Treatment-Recovery community.

It is interesting to look at the battlefield from two sides.  On one side are Law Enforcement and Prevention-Treatment-Recovery organizations that help people get well from their addiction, try to get individuals and their families healed and normally functioning, and focusing on preventing children from wandering down that horrible path.  On the other side are those who believe that it is their right to live their lives in a mind-altered state.  They have convinced a few highly-visible, heart-rending souls who suffer from a painful disease or illness, that this drug will help them through their pain.  I see the “medical” marijuana issue as an insidious legalization beast that sits behind desperately ill human shields.  As a member of the sober society you can obviously see my bias.

Law enforcement, when properly focused, can shut off the supply and dry up a local market creating new opportunities for treatment.  That has been proven, time and time again.  You may not believe it...but it is true.  Our problem is that we invest so little in fixing the addicted, healing parents, and inoculating our children from substance abuse. Every drug dealer and drug cartel boss knows that because we, as a People, don’t care about someone else’s problem that we won’t commit to funding prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.  In a day, a week, a month, even year or more, people get pushed out onto that same street where the addiction and associated crime begin anew.  They were neither given the time to acquire the tools to fight the craving nor compelled to acquire the tools.  As a result we send them back to an environment where lapsing and relapsing is only a matter of when it will happen.  If, there are children at home, the cycle of neglect and abuse creates the next generation of...well you get the picture.  The cost of doing nothing or too little, is enormous.

This brings us back to the legalization effort.  I’ve read and heard the cries.  Let me say that the “science” can say many things that can be used by both sides in their respective arguments.  But, some things are constant and true.  First, prohibition results in decreased use.  Second, science and medicine agree that smoking anything is the least effective and an immeasurably more harmful way of delivering “medicine”.  Third, more kids are being treated for marijuana use than any of the other drugs combined.  Fourth, Science and Medicine agree that extended marijuana use increases the likelihood of depression and a psychotic episode.  Finally, there are no independent studies that prove that marijuana causes no harm…and there never will be!

So, we get back to why we should tolerate the legalization of another substance that alters reality.  Have we done such a great job with the two other legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) that we need to add another to the mix?  You have got to be kidding me!  As one of my heroes, Pastor Larry Munguia, of the Sober Project, says, “Either you know somebody who is suffering from substance abuse, or you know somebody who knows somebody suffering from substance abuse.”  We are all connected to each other and all in this together.  It is time to stop this nonsense.  Stand up, speak up, and take action.  Let’s not add more gasoline to the fire.  Whether you speak to an elected official, lobby your boss, motivate your faith group, you must do something.  We need to prevent, treat, and help recover human beings needing help.  Bailing out on marijuana just means you have to pay for it in the future.  Look at your child...they will be paying off this debt and so will their children.  Look at your child…do you want them to use marijuana?

About the Author

Anthony Coulson recently retired from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) where he was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Tucson District Office and directed the Federal Government’s drug enforcement strategy in Southern Arizona. They partnered with other Federal, State, Tribal, County, and Municipal law enforcement organizations ensuring that there was a cooperative and comprehensive drug enforcement strategy to reduce the availability of drugs coming into and through Arizona. He had over 100 sworn law enforcement personnel, including DEA Special Agents, State and local Task Force Officers, and other Federal Agents, under his command.