We had a discussion in my psychology class today about legalizing drugs. I like sitting back and listening to open discussions where young people are free to speak their mind. It helps me take the pulse of young people.
I was quite impressed with some of the comments that were made and a little dismayed by others. I get dismayed by sweeping generalizations and remarks containing phrases like "alcoholic bums." Not all alcoholics are bums and just who are bums anyway? Some see alcoholism or drug addiction as a choice. It's not that easy. I subscribe to a biopsychosocial model for alcoholism and drug addiction. Meaning there are biological, psychological factors and social factors that all play into alcoholism and drug addiction. What contributes to addiction in one person may be quite different for others. Treating addiction requires treating each person on an individual basis and addressing their personal issues that contributed to their addiction.
Here are some of my thoughts on how the conversation needs to go. Each drug should be carefully considered on an individual basis. Marijuana is a far cry from methamphetamine so decisions about legalizing either should be considered separately. Marijuana has been shown to have clinical uses and we need to quit futzing around about not only legalizing it but putting it to use for many who are suffering ill effects of chemotherapy and can obtain relief with marijuana.
We need to take a new look at the laws regarding possession of certain drugs and offer something better than prison in response. Prisons are costing us a lot of money and really aren't providing any benefit to society with regards to men and women whose crime is possession. It's costing us to much money, tying up our courts and law enforcement officers who have better things to do.
As for other drugs, I would prefer that there be some real services and treatment in place if we are to have any discussion about legalizing other drugs. It would behoove us to investigate how other countries regulate drug use once it is legalized. If it were to become legal, money from the sale of drugs should go directly for harm reduction programs, treatment programs and real education on the effects of drug use and abuse.
In addition, if we are to look at legalizing drugs, it needs to go hand in hand with improving the quality of life for our citizens. The social issues around drug abuse and addiction are the real problem. Poverty, poor education, affordable housing, improved social services, address these and drug addiction with all it's secondary woes will drop automatically. Quality drug and alcohol treatment will dry up a drug market easier and more cheaply than criminalization and prison time.
That's my two cents worth.
Kudos to Dr. Mike Torello for allowing the discussion with out judgment. Kudos to the class members who contributed to the discussion and added more background information. I wish I knew your names so I could acknowledge you.