If You Smoke It, You Will Become Addicted!

Jan 18, 2013

In recent weeks, we have seen a shift in how drug war pro­po­nents are talk­ing about mar­i­juana. No longer able to con­vince the pub­lic that peo­ple who use mar­i­juana should go to jail, they are singing a new tune; they should all go to treat­ment. This is a shift we have seen before. When mar­i­juana first came on the scene in the U.S. in the early 1900s, reports of mar­i­juana induced vio­lence among Mex­i­cans fueled the nation’s fear about the lit­tle known plant. When the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion started exper­i­ment­ing with the herb in the 1920s, it became clear that the claims of vio­lence were fab­ri­cated. Los­ing the abil­ity to instill fear in the pub­lic around mar­i­juana use, the mes­sage was mod­i­fied. The new mes­sage tied mar­i­juana use to insan­ity and men­tal ill­ness, which were highly stig­ma­tized con­di­tions, and con­tinue to be. Being labeled as men­tally ill fright­ened the white, mid­dle class, mar­i­juana con­sumers, and this fear led to the sup­port of the Mar­i­juana Tax Act in 1937. Fast for­ward to 2012. Pub­lic sup­port for mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion is at an all-time high and the gov­ern­ment acknowl­edges that a change is being con­sid­ered. No longer able to con­vince Amer­i­cans that mar­i­juana con­sumers are dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals who deserve to be locked up, his­tory is repeat­ing itself. We are see­ing a shift in the mes­sage, from mar­i­juana con­sumers as crim­i­nals to mar­i­juana con­sumers as sick peo­ple who belong in treat­ment. It’s a pro­pa­ganda shell game and we can’t fall for it again. A recent arti­cle in the New York Times quoted Dr. Nora Volkow, the head of the National Insti­tute on Drug Abuse as say­ing that 1 out of 6 ado­les­cents who try mar­i­juana will become addicted. That is akin to say­ing, if you keep mak­ing that face, it will freeze that way. In fact, a mere 2.8% of 12–17 year olds who used mar­i­juana in 2010 entered treat­ment for it, and many of those cases could be the result of an agree­ment between the courts and the defen­dant in lieu of involve­ment with the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. When look­ing at the broader land­scape of mar­i­juana use, we see that 1.1% of mar­i­juana users 12 and older in 2010 went to treat­ment for the sub­stance. We also saw twice as many arrested for sim­ple mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion that year than enter treat­ment for mar­i­juana depen­dence (750,000 vs. 335,833). The claim that mar­i­juana causes men­tal ill­ness, or that all mar­i­juana con­sumers are addicted and in need of treat­ment under­mines the efforts by men­tal health and addic­tions pro­fes­sion­als to address the seri­ous ill­nesses and addic­tions that pose real threats to per­sons and soci­ety. Dr. David Nathan, a clin­i­cal asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Robert Wood John­son Med­ical School and recently elected as a dis­tin­guished fel­low in the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric Asso­ci­a­tion, wrote in a piece on CNN​.com, “Through­out my career as a clin­i­cal psy­chi­a­trist, I have seen lives ruined by drugs like cocaine, painkillers and alco­hol. I have also borne wit­ness to the dev­as­ta­tion brought upon cannabis users — almost never by abuse of the drug, but by a jus­tice sys­tem that chooses a sledge­ham­mer to kill a weed.” Recently, for­mer Rhode Island Con­gress­man Patrick Kennedy announced the for­ma­tion of a new group, SAM, which stands for A Smarter Approach to Mar­i­juana. Kennedy and his group rec­og­nize that the argu­ment of jail for mar­i­juana is no longer salient with today’s pop­u­la­tion, so they have repack­aged the mes­sage for a new gen­er­a­tion: mar­i­juana use is a men­tal ill­ness and requires treat­ment, every time. This sen­ti­ment is echoed in his group’s project list, which includes, “Increased fund­ing for men­tal health courts and treat­ment of drug depen­dency, so those caught using mar­i­juana might avoid incar­cer­a­tion, get help and poten­tially have their crim­i­nal records cleared.” On its face, this state­ment is not so out­ra­geous, but upon closer look it is fright­en­ing for two rea­sons. First, although increased fund­ing for men­tal health ser­vices and sub­stance abuse treat­ment can be ben­e­fi­cial, accord­ing to a 2008 report, 90% of those who cur­rently need sub­stance abuse treat­ment do not receive it, this com­pares to 24% of dia­betes patients who do not receive treat­ment. It is esti­mated that 23 mil­lion peo­ple need addic­tion care, and only 2.3 mil­lion receive it. Forc­ing mar­i­juana con­sumers into an already over­loaded sys­tem will reduce the like­li­hood of care for those with seri­ous, life threat­en­ing addic­tions. Fur­ther­more, since approx­i­mately 37% of treat­ment refer­rals come from the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, ini­ti­at­ing a pipeline from the court­room to treat­ment will result in a tidal wave of first time, young mar­i­juana offend­ers enter­ing sub­stance abuse treat­ment to trade the label of crim­i­nal for addict. Sec­ondly, Kennedy’s group refers to treat­ment for those “caught” with mar­i­juana. This implies, that, under his plan, the U.S. will con­tinue to seek out mar­i­juana users, pre­sum­ably via law enforce­ment. Or, per­haps Kennedy et al will insti­tute a spe­cial mar­i­juana task force charged with roam­ing the coun­try in search of mar­i­juana addicts. What­ever the case, SAM’s plan involves the active iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of mar­i­juana con­sumers, fol­lowed by forced involve­ment in the sys­tem. Don’t be fooled, this is not a “new way” for mar­i­juana, but rather a regres­sive old approach dressed in new clothes. Source: Huff­in­g­ton Post (NY) Author: Amanda Reiman, Pol­icy Man­ager, Drug Pol­icy Alliance Pub­lished: Jan­u­ary 18, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Huff​in​g​ton​Post​.com, LLC Con­tact: scoop@​huffingtonpost.​com Web­site: http://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/

9bb5cd4993ration.jpg 150x84 If You Smoke It, You Will Become Addicted!

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If You Smoke It, You Will Become Addicted!

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