Ex-Drug User Not High On The Future 

Ex-Drug User Not High On The Future 
Posted by FoM on June 15, 2001 at 21:42:14 PT
By Thom Marshall 
Source: Houston Chronicle 
A man who has what he considers an average circle of 15 close friends said that eight -- more than half -- of them are users or former users of marijuana. He said among those eight are a couple of bankers, a lawyer, a marketing executive, a nurse, a priest and a psychiatrist. While this man said he has "for the most part, put pot-using behind me," he does not chastise any of his user friends nor does he consider them to be criminals. 
He said that while his friends' usage is in violation of drug laws, none has ever been collared for it. And he believes the mathematics represented by his circle of friends would be similar to the percentage of users and former users and nonusers throughout the entire population across This Great Land. That means, he said, if the warriors ever declare actual victory in the war on drugs, "probably half of us will be in jail, on probation, or unable to work. Then, who's won what?" His lengthy e-mail message was one of many to comment on a recent column about a schoolteacher who defined himself as a marijuana addict, and who said he had smoked it regularly for 25 years without getting caught. Look at past to predict future:Noteworthy about this response is how the writer, who preferred anonymity, stepped back from the schoolteacher's self-portrait to try to see where it fits in the big picture. He is trying to understand the roles that drugs and drug policies play in our collective behavior. He draws from history as a means of predicting the future. "Americans are unhappy or bored with their lives," he wrote. "We're a society of users, be it drugs, alcohol, petroleum, 180-plus TV channels, or whatever." And in looking at our many excesses and ennui, this fellow becomes quite pessimistic and predicts that, "Like ancient Rome, we are destined to fall." He mentions several aspects of our society that fuel his pessimism. Foremost among them, he points out how we build huge costly sports Colosseums where team owners can pit their highly paid professional athletes against each other. But we fail to provide adequate facilities and activities and programs to keep our kids from overdosing on TV or keep them off the streets. "If we're such a great society," he asks, "why do we have teachers who go to class high because their lives seem lacking; councilmen arrested for DUI and leaving the scene; cops running drug rings or worse; millionaire sports heroes on their second, third, or fourth rehab chances; Fortune 500 companies pushing the two worst drugs of all (alcohol and tobacco). ... Who are we fooling?" In drawing his comparison to Rome, he said that history tells us "it was a slow agonizing slide. I feel we are on the downslope now, though, unless we change our priorities." And then he arrived at what might be the essence of the dispute that divides into opposing sides those of us who otherwise agree it is best not to use drugs. Punishment carries high price:Those who support the drug war believe that police and punishment in sufficient amounts can reverse our society's descending skid. Those of us who oppose it side with the man who e-mailed me: "Filling our prisons with unfortunately ruined lives is not the answer, no more than (alcohol) Prohibition was 70 years ago." He said that according to his research, "The price tag for housing just nonviolent drug users in the USA is estimated at $9.4 billion annually." And as evidence that the war on drugs is failing, "A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that while the incarceration rate for drug possession increased 1,040 percent (almost elevenfold) over the last decade, the percentage of high school age kids who admitted to using drugs doubled." He said the punishment-based drug policies have not changed the direction or velocity of that segment of our affluent society whose members seek escape from their boredom with mind-altering substances. He said, "This is the saddest part of all: We casually throw the most unfortunate dupes in jail, black mark them for life and expect them to come out rehabilitated. All we are doing is throwing gasoline on the fire." Thom Marshall's e-mail address is: thom.marshall chron.comSource: Houston Chronicle (TX)Author: Thom MarshallPublished: June 15, 2001Copyright: 2000 Houston Chronicle Contact: viewpoints Website: CannabisNews Articles - Thom Marshall
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Comment #4 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on June 16, 2001 at 12:27:16 PT
I Am Jack's Medulla Oblongata
  Don't forget the people who are addicted to recovery and twelve-step programs...
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Comment #3 posted by Doug on June 16, 2001 at 11:00:30 PT
A Basic Need
I have mixed feelings about this one. I believe, and I think there is much evidence for this, that altering your consciousness is a basic need for human (and other) beings. It has been done for millenia, and is done by "lesser" animals. The problem now is that this basic need is repressed, big-time, and so it comes out in all kinds of morbid and damaging ways. Some of these toxic responses to this repression of basic needs are mentioned in the article above; I agree that we are going the way of Rome, but not because "teachers go to class high" but because of the War on Drugs.On the other hand, the article doesn't mentioned the main, over-reaching addiction-like reponse that Americans show: conspicuous consumption. America is all about consumption, the more the better. It is our birth right. This addiction to stuff and more stuff -- retail therapy -- is the behavior that dug use is a scapegoat for: we can't even talk about this addiction to more and more, even though it is destroying the planet, and so we arrest more and more drug users, hoping to avoid the real problem.
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Comment #2 posted by aocp on June 16, 2001 at 05:36:48 PT
Amazing insight
"Americans are unhappy or bored with their lives," he wrote. "We're a society of users, be it drugs, alcohol, petroleum, 180-plus TV channels, or whatever."Anyone ever heard Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy's "Television - the Drug of a Nation"? It's a great track and puts this quote into focus. Where do we draw the line at what addictions are "worthy" of state intervention? The hypocrisy surrounding booze and smokes is just the tip of the iceberg. As George Carlin said, "Don't bail out on me now! The blood is already on our hands! ... we're just talking about a matter of degree!"Right on. The "blood" here represents (to me) every american's personal addiction(s) and the "degree" is the wide spectrum available to choose from. I believe cannabis should be mandatorily added to that list. Any naysayers?
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Comment #1 posted by Dave in Florida on June 16, 2001 at 05:11:00 PT
Circle of Friends
A man who has what he considers an average circle of 15 close friends said that eight -- more than half -- of them are users or former users of marijuana.That sounds about right for me as well. At least that I am aware of, that about half of my friends smoke. Actually, several of us will play cards (wizard) on saturday nights and smoke a few. After smoking for 32 years I enjoy it as much today as the first time I tried it. I am sure there are many more small circles of people who do the same. 
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