Drug Policy

Pot Is Now More Popular Than Tobacco Among Seniors (in High School)

|

The latest data from the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future Study, released today, indicate that marijuana use by teenagers, which fell from 2001 through 2006, may be on the rise again. Between 2008 and 2009, the share of students who reported smoking pot in the previous month rose from 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent among eighth-graders, from 13.8 percent to 15.9 percent among 10th-graders, and from 19.4 percent to 20.6 percent among 12th-graders. This is the third year in a row that self-reported marijuana use has risen among high school seniors, who are now more likely to smoke pot than cigarettes (PDF). According to the Associated Press, "researchers said" that "the increase of teens smoking pot is partly because the national debate over medical use of marijuana can make the drug's use seem safer to teenagers." Yet the first medical marijuana law, California's, was passed in 1996, and during the subsequent 13 years another dozen states adopted similar policies. If these laws are signaling teenagers that smoking pot is safe, why the lag? A June 2008 report from the Marijuana Policy Project noted (PDF):

More than a decade after the passage of the nation's first state medical marijuana law, California's Prop. 215, a considerable body of data shows that no state with a medical marijuana law has experienced an increase in youth marijuana use since their law's enactment. In fact, all states have reported overall decreases—exceeding 50% in some age groups—strongly suggesting that enactment of state medical marijuana laws does not increase teen marijuana use.

To put the recent upward trend in perspective, past-month marijuana use by high school seniors is still only about half as common as it was in 1979. Still, federal officials lament that "the percentage of eighth-graders who saw a 'great risk' in occasionally smoking marijuana fell from 50.5 percent in 2004 to 48.1 percent in 2008 and 44.8 percent this year." It speaks volumes about the scientific basis of our current drug policy that the people charged with implementing it openly pin their hopes for success on their ability to trick 13-year-olds into believing something that is patently false.

Advertisement

NEXT: Obama and the Banksters

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. what a shocking revelation. teenagerspeople like to get high and will continue to do so with or without their parent’sgovernment’s permission

  2. “It speaks volumes about the scientific basis of our current drug policy that the people charged with implementing it openly pin their hopes for success on their ability to trick 13-year-olds into believing something that is patently false.”

    yeah, well you’ve seen what they think of telling people in regards to economic policy…

  3. It’s not that medical marijuana debate makes it “seem safer”, but that it brings the drug into focus. The debate is doing the same job that those signs saying Obama/McCain did during the election. They raise awareness, and keep you thinking about it. Teens who think about marijuana are a lot more likely to decide they want to try it than those who don’t.

    duh.

  4. Teens who think about marijuana are a lot more likely to decide they want to try it than those who don’t

    I knew I shouldn’t have read that Obama poster!!

  5. Are there any graphs of this? I suspect a lot of it has to do with the decline in smoking tobacco. The trendiness of smoking butts behind the gym has waxed and waned over the decades, but I suspect that it declined overall from the days when even households had two or three obligatory ashtrays.

    1. Yes, according to the pdf linked in the blog post, cigarette use has dropped the last few years. Which is a good thing. As a parent, and sometimes tobacco (not cigarette) user, I could care less if my kid smokes marijuana once he’s of high school age.

      1. You mean other than the possibility that the government will possibly tear up your house and terrorize your family early one morning, then screw over the rest of your child’s life?

  6. I go to an extremely competitive private high school in new york city and can say that about half of the kids in my grade smoke marijuana, and about 15 percent on a weekly basis. I smoke marijuana once a week, and still get very high grades in school.

    1. Stay off the hippie lettuce. STAY IN SCHOOL.

      Cigarettes make you look cooler spliffs, anyway.

    2. So tell us old farts where you can score some. Without faking glaucoma, that is.

  7. I read the headline as “Port is now more popular than tobacco” and took it to mean that our children are becoming a bunch of wine snobs.

  8. The fact that more teens are turning to pot than tobacco is a good thing. Pot does not cause cancer, isn’t addictive, and you cannot overdose from it. It is safer than tobacco, alcohol, ASPIRIN, etc, and does no damage to the body. You don’t even have to smoke it to get the benefits, google vaporizer. Wake up America, prohibition is costing us our future.

    1. The fact that more teens are turning to pot than tobacco is a good thing. Pot does not cause cancer, isn’t addictive, and you cannot overdose from it.

      Tobacco overdoses are pretty rare.

      1. You’re doing it wrong.

        *loads whole can of dip into mouth*

    2. Anything you burn and inhale probably causes cancer.

      Not that it should matter.

      1. Agreed. But you don’t usually smoke 21 joints a day for years.

        1. The BBC, whose marijuana coverage is about as balanced as “Reefer Madness” was, once did a story about a woman who got emphysema from smoking marijuana (she didn’t smoke tobacco).

          About the third or fourth paragraph (it was on their website) down, they mentioned that she’d smoked 10 joints a day for over twenty years.

          1. I strongly suspect that there was a causal link between smoking MJ and emphysema of said woman proven.

            There was a coincidence or correlation. But nothing more.

            “Anything you burn and inhale probably causes cancer.”

            That was my believe system for years. Then I stumbled over Tashkin’s studies finding no link between MJ use and lung cancer:

            http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..083353.htm

            1. “”There was a coincidence or correlation. But nothing more.””

              No one has shown how smoking causes cancer. Tobacco smoke and cancer is correlation. Albeit pretty convincing.

              We still don’t know what causes cancer.

              1. Error correction weakness in our software (DNA).

              2. having an average lifespan over 30…

          2. Did you see “Should I smoke dope?”?
            Horrible, the medical science was quackery at best, and the host’s reactions to weed were, I believe, exaggerated.

            A portion of the show spent time equating the effects of different strains of mj with different alcohols. Not the relative strengths but, the actual effects. As if one could say, eating pscilocybin mushrooms is like taking a codeine pill and, lsd feels like heroin.

            When doctors are all employees of the state you get the medical science of the state.

            Almost puked in my pants watching that garbage.

            1. The show was on bbc recently, sorry.

        2. “””Agreed. But you don’t usually smoke 21 joints a day for years.”””

          Speak for yourself. lol

          True. But smoking, daily, even if 2 or 4 joints, can cause carbon and tar buildup in air passageways. Anyone that have ever cleaned a pipe see how much crap builds up as the smoke travels through.

          1. Sure, I don’t know many people who smoke 2-4 joints a day either.

        3. Speak for yourself Hazel!

  9. It speaks volumes about the scientific basis of our current drug policy that the people charged with implementing it openly pin their hopes for success on their ability to trick 13-year-olds into believing something that is patently false.

    They need more candy, and a van.

    1. I think 13 is a bit old for that strategy as well. After 8-10 kids just aren’t that dumb. Most of them. Some never stop being stupid.

  10. To put the recent upward trend in perspective, past-month marijuana use by high school seniors is still only about half as common as it was in 1979.

    Class of 1980 you bitches!

  11. Pot won the drug war!!

  12. Well in most major cities the cost of cigarettes has gotten so high it is becoming economical to smoke weed. A better feeling at fractions of the cost with out all those additives. Honestly keep it illegal I dont want corporations to ruin pot the way they did tabacco.

    1. Exactly what I thought. Thanks.

      I suspect that marijunana smoke is just as bad for you as unfiltered tobacco smoke, but on the other hand you don’t generally smoke several joints a day.

    2. Honestly keep it illegal I dont want corporations to ruin pot the way they did t[o]bacco.

      Yeah, that’s fucking brilliant. Let’s keep throwing people in prison so you won’t be inconvenienced.

  13. Finally people are realizing that marijuana is safer to use than alcohol or tobacco. There is a reason thousands of people in the US use it for various ailments. Teens are stepping away from dangerous drugs like LSD and extacy, and this is very good news.

    1. LSD dangerous? What world are you living in?

    2. LSD dangerous? What world are you living in?

      1. One that he arrived in after a lot of LSD is my guess.

        Now, I’ll agree that LSD seems to cause no lasting physioligcal repercussions, though I think the jury is still out on the psychological effects (for want of extensive study). Looks like there might be valid therapeutic use for it though in some psychiatric cases, so who knows.

        The most significant danger I think associated with LSD is just from people who shouldn’t be using it. Risk-Seeking personalities + LSD = Some Sort of Dangerous Craziness. And obviously, if you’re not mentally stable to begin with, trying any serious mind-alterant without supervision is probably not a good idea.

        Trip-sitters and pharmacists who refuse to sell to people with crazy eyes, wearing extreme sporting gear to the store.

        “What’s with the helmet and harness?”

        “Dude, i gotta climb this mountain in aisle 3. Lemme get some LSD. And some rope.”

  14. “the share of students who reported smoking pot in the previous month rose from 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent among eighth-graders”

    In others words the kids are getting more honest.

    1. that was my first take as well. perhaps because it’s become a subject of national debate, and even decriminalization in some places, they feel less of a social stigma in admitting they’ve been smoking. When I was in middle and high school, waaaaaay more than 6.5% of the 8th graders were smoking. On a daily basis.

  15. I fought the pot and the, the pot won, I fought the pot and the, the pot won.

    1. Unfortunately, that parody version of the song is performed by John Ashcroft’s barbershop quartet.

      Otherwise, it’d be a YouTube sensation.

  16. I wonder how much drug testing to get a job contributes to what I think are pretty low numbers when it comes to how much kids admit to smoking pot in this study. When I was in high school, the only kids I knew who did not smoke pot were the ones who got tested in order to get the job they were applying for. Once they got the job, if they didn’t have random testing, it was time to light up again.

    My high school was at least 90% pot smoker. Maybe higher, but then again, most of the kids at my high school didn’t have to work because their parents were friggin’ LOADED. Mine were not so loaded, but I also didn’t get tested because I got paid under the table at a pizza joint and the whole establishment’s work force including the two owners would have been unemployed if pot were forbidden.

  17. I’m a professor of pharmacology. There is no question whatsoever at all that pot has addictive potential. This is a scientific fact, not a question of judgment.

    Somewhere just under 10% of people who smoke pot become addicted, where addiction is defined in DSM-IV. By comparison, a third of people who consume tobacco products will become addicted. The addictive potential of alcohol is about 15%, half that of cigarettes, more than that of pot. Pot does not have the high addictive potential of some substances, both licit and illicit, but it has significant addictive potential nonetheless.

    If availability were to increase,it follows that use would increase.

    That is the rub: As more people are exposed to the drug, one can predict with some precision the fraction who will subsequently become addicted (~10%).

    The broader, public health consequence is this: why allow increased consumption of yet another substance, even if regulated, to which a predictable number of people will become addicted and all the adverse personal and societal consequences thereof?

    The reason we do not have a significant marijuana addiction problem right now is largely due to the relative difficulty in obtaining the substance, unlike cigarettes and alcohol.

    1. Yeah, OK. When did MJ become difficult to obtain?

      Even if it is addictive for 10% of people, why does that matter? Considering the lack of harm from consumption, who cares if everyone is addicted to it? It’s not your business or “society’s” what people consume.

      Can’t it be said that the only adverse personal and societal consequences of pot use are from the prohibition (meaning you can go to jail) and stigma of consuming something that is illegal? If it were legal and society was accustomed to regular use by most adults, the consequences wouldn’t be very damaging to anyone.

      Why don’t you just come out and admit, you want to control people because you think you’re smarter than everyone else?

      1. Yeah. What Nick said.

        1. but but, what about “the adverse personal and societal consequences thereof”?!?!?

          seriously though, lemme third what nick said.

    2. “why allow increased consumption of yet another substance?”

      Methinks you have failed to quite grasp the intellectual tenor around here. We tend to think that those in favor of new laws and bans need to be proving their cause, not those in favor of freedom. If your argument is “but 10% of people who try it will get addicted!”, I would say that’s hardly a compelling reason to forbid it to the 90% of other people. Especially considering that marijuana addiction “and all the adverse societal consequences thereof” don’t actually seem to be a very big deal. Nobody burglarizes your house to be able to afford his pot habit; the hospitals are not filled with the wrecks of men and women who destroyed their bodies with marijuana.

      And frankly, your last sentence almost sounds like you’re trolling us. “relative difficulty in obtaining the substance”? Relative to my ability to walk to the corner bodega and get a beer and a pack of cigarettes, sure, but getting pot would require only a slightly longer walk, or maybe a phone call or two, I assure you…

      1. I don’t doubt you or I or anybody reading this could acquire some pot and pick it up on the way home tonight.

        Still, the fact that it is just that more difficult to acquire seems to be working, from a public health perspective. For example, walking into a convenience store, we aren’t faced with a rack of tempting cannabis blends and flavors, so there isn’t a great deal of impulse purchasing.

        When my teenage daughter experimented a few years ago, the negative consequences we imposed on her weren’t severe by any truly objective measure. We made it difficult for her to hang out with the friends who were smoking pot, restricting her access.

        She could have gone around us. Truth is, there was really nothing we could do to stop her if she really wanted to smoke. But our methods of access restriction were difficult enough that it just wasn’t worth it for her to continue experimenting with pot.

        1. MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

          Test the bitch in a month. Taking bets on the results, odds are 1,000,000:1

        2. So, the law had nary a restrictive effect on your daughter finding marijuana but, you as an individual taking responsibility did? That is what we have been preaching forever.

    3. I call bullshit on the “Professor of Pharmacology”.

      First, where are your citations, do you let your research students make bold claims without evidence?

      Second, as a “Professor of Pharmacology” you should know the difference between addiction and dependence.

      Third, you claim that, and I quote, “The reason we do not have a significant marijuana addiction problem right now is largely due to the relative difficulty in obtaining the substance, unlike cigarettes and alcohol.” You don’t even throw out some random numbers to justify this pile if crap.

      You sir are a disgrace.

      1. First, I’d personally argue for the status quo with respect to pot. To the extent it can be decriminalized without making it more readily available, even better. And I completely support my sister’s use…she has ovarian cancer and thinks it helps her. At her stage of the disease, whatever she thinks helps her is fine by me. It is unfortunate she can’t use it therapeutically in any legal sense.

        Second, addiction = dependence
        DSMIV definition: “A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period: see DSMIV for the several criterea, but the summary is that it becomes a problem when someone continues the use of a substance despite significant substance-related problems”

        Third, the study most often cited for population-based estimates comparing the addiction potential for various drugs is: Anthony JC, Warner LA, Kessler RC. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 1994;2:244?268. In other words, old news.

        Fourth,the concept that the incidence of addition is directly related to the availability of addictive substances shouldn’t be difficult to understand. It is simple probability and statistics. See Bejerot, he figured it out 4 decades ago and nobody in science or public health has really been able to dispute it seriously since.

        Fifth, what is bad about marijuana addiction? Only someone who has never suffered drug addiction or has little or no understanding of the negative consequences of drug addiction would seriously ask that question.

        Finally, do libertarians believe heroin should be decriminalized and that heroin should become more widely available? Hint: Heroin’s risk of addiction is actually less than that of tobacco and a bit more than twice that of marijuana. Close to 80% of the people who ever try heroin never become addicted (Roberts et al 1994).

        1. To the extent it can be decriminalized without making it more readily available

          Again, it’s already readily available, especially to kids. No legislative activity, in either direction, will make it all that much easier or more difficult for your average smoker to buy a bag of weed.

          Finally, do libertarians believe heroin should be decriminalized and that heroin should become more widely available?

          A lot of us do, yeah.

        2. From dsm-iv “The terms “addiction” “dependence” and “alcoholism” are interchangeable.”, so I’ll give you that one.

          The dsm-iv has six criteria, of which three must be present to diagnose addiction. One is “LARGE AMOUNTS OVER A LONG PERIOD” this would be inter- dependent, excuse the term, with “TOLERANCE” i.e one begets the other. The conditions ” * TIME SPENT IN OBTAINING THE SUBSTANCE REPLACES

          SOCIAL, OCCUPATIONAL OR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

          * CONTINUED USE DESPITE ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES” could be construed as consequences of your favored restrictive scheduling, instead of the chemical’s intrinsic pharmacological propeties. Also, the dsm-iv’s general definition of addiction does not allow for nuances of different chemicals and there organic destructiveness, never mind the subjective nature of the criteria.

          Bejerot’s sample size was ridiculously small, to say nothing of the cultural differences between swedes and the rest of the world (or the 60’s and now). The Swedes temporarily had a relaxed drug policy implemented right at the beginning of a drug explosion, then had an increase in use. The period of decriminalisation was too short and the population too small for this reader to take Nils ‘stockholm syndrome’ Bejerot seriously. Further, although Sweden’s drug laws are harsher than most European nations, they are lighter than the U.S.’s but have lower addiction and usage rates. Ditto for the netherlands, the most liberal of all.

          see:
          dsm-iv 2002
          http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/67
          http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/1/par…..rald-e.htm

          1. Couldn’t put this on the last one
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17382831

            And yes, by all means legalize heroin.

        3. First, you just said that tobacco addiction was 15% which is less than 20% (heroin) dumbass.
          Second, we’re not discussing heroin.
          Third, I prestigious high school and I have to say that almost 85% of seniors smoke, 30% juniors, 80% sophmores, and 30% freshman…those might be rough percentages, but can’t all research results be a little rough or twisted without anyone knowing.

    4. “The broader, public health consequence is this: why allow increased consumption of yet another substance, even if regulated, to which a predictable number of people will become addicted and all the adverse personal and societal consequences thereof?”

      As you probably realize, you’re not accounting for substitution effects.

      The only reason I drink is because I have no access to cheap, legal pot. Public policy has pushed me to a recreational drug that I don’t enjoy that much, and which carries more health and addiction risks than my preferred drug.

      What you’re doing here is assuming that people who don’t currently use ANY recreational drug would take up pot, then become addicted to it. I’m sure that would happen to a few people. But that number is at least partially offset by those who will switch away from more dangerous drugs to pot, if it were legalized.

    5. http://tinyurl.com/Henningfield-Benowitz

      Keeping Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are dispensed freely is *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.

      It has controlled this glaucoma patient’s asthma for over forty years, and I now have my ophthalmologist’s rec.

      Guess I might fall into your 10% but that’s a moot point now!

  18. Marijuana makes you talk like
    Bill and Ted or Cheech and Chong or Jay or Spicoli. That can’t be good.

    1. Ok, so I guess it also makes you swim like Michael Phelps, pitch like Barry Zito, research like Carl Sagan, or climb the ladder like Barack Obama.

      1. No, but I think the only heavy user was Sagan and that for medical reasons. More importantly I really don’t care for the marijuana is completely harmless meme around here. All drugs have effects. Some wanted others (side-effects) not wanted. To say that there are no negative results from using marijuana especially heavy use is as disingenuous as saying one puff will turn you into a raping murdering beast.

        1. Yeah ok, fair enough. I don’t think the stupid spaced-out stoner stereotype illustrates the reality of marijuana use either though.

          What medical reasons did Sagan cite? From what I’ve read of his personal accounts, the main benefits he saw were intellectual (inspiration of cool sciency-type thought) and physical (inspiration of fun sexy-time).

        2. You throw out words like disingenuous after a post like this : “Marijuana makes you talk like
          Bill and Ted or Cheech and Chong or Jay or Spicoli. That can’t be good.”

          That is the pot calling the kettle black. Speaking of black maybe you could use some fictional characters to make other broad assumptions, such as ” If being black means you speak like Aunt Jamima, or Gusto, or,or… ad infinitum. That can’t be good.”

          1. If I said the names of real loser stoners I’ve known you would scratch your head and say “Who?”

            1. Huh? What’s your point?

              Still waiting for an explanation of Sagan’s “medical” use, too.

              1. He has no point. He made a lame attempt at humor and when it failed to get a “harr harr, good one ” we see his mental exertion trying to validate what he said by setting little fires to throw anyone off the ungodly scent of his creative incompetence.

            2. But we all know who the winner stoner is, Michael Phelps.

  19. I thought he died of cancer so I made an assumption that it was for that. This is Hit and Run. False assumptions are par for course.

  20. To the professor of pharmacology who asked “why allow increased consumption of yet another substance, even if regulated, to which a predictable number of people will become addicted and all the adverse personal and societal consequences thereof?”

    Because even if your predicted increase in consumption were to happen, there’s not a hope in hell that the negative consequences would cancel out the gains that society would make by not jailing millions of people for what is a non-victimising, consensual act, and ending the vast revenue streams that currently go to violent gangsters only because we refuse to allow law-abiding citizens to sell some drugs. It’s also vanishingly unlikely that there would in the long term be more problem use if we use some of the billions of dollars currently spent on marginally effective interdiction and incarceration and used it to fund adequate treatment for those whose cannabis use causes a problem.
    What you seem to be saying is that you think prohibition is an effective and humane way of minimising drug-related harms. The onus is on you to demonstrate that. And, moreover, anyone who thinks that prohibition is just and effective ought to be clamouring for alcohol and cigarettes to be made illegal; if it really does reduce use, just think how many lives we could save. Yet you never hear anyone who is prepared to make that case, and with good reason: we feel that it is unjust to punish people simply for drinking or smoking.
    In general, you cannot invoke the ‘why add another dangerous drug when we already have such problems with alcohol’ argument unless you can identify a relevant distinction between alcohol and pot: what are the consistent criteria by which you judge that pot should remain illegal and alcohol legal? If you can’t say, then we are entitled to conclude that the current classifications are arbitrary, and, since they are used as the basis for punishment, unjust (‘arbitrary punishment’ being a pretty useful definition of injustice).

    Also, you draw a false connection between heroin being ‘decriminalised’ and ‘more widely available’. There is no reason why heroin shouldn’t be legally available under some system of regulation that limits availability more effectively than the completely unregulated illegal market we now have. Switzerland prescribes heroin to heroin addicts, having found that this massively reduces overdose deaths, acquisitive crime committed by addicts, and new cases of addiction – probably because they now have no incentive to become low-level dealers to their acquaintances. Admittedly this regulated prescription model is not the kind of system an ideological libertarian would come up with, but addictive drugs are not like ordinary commodities; they come with risks that justify a greater degree of regulation than should apply to other products. (I hope no one reading that is going to shoot me down without a reasoned explanation.) Anyway, the point is that blanket prohibition of heroin appears to cause more death, more crime and more addiction than regulated legal supply, at least in Switzerland. Are they really so different from the rest of us?

    1. …the swiss, yes, they are different, they are happier and have sweet ass mountains.

    2. Good grief

      My central points are that marijuana is indeed addictive and that one can predict with reasonable certainty the numbers of new addicts arising from loosening restrictions on access to marijuana, or any other illicit drug.

      You can argue all you care to argue about whether and why it should be decriminalized or even legalized, regulated or unregulated.

      Just don’t pretend that more addiction won’t result.

      (ps, in the US heroin addicts can get their ‘fix’ from the government, too. We call these methadone clinics)

  21. Fine, we shouldn’t ‘pretend that more addiction won’t result’, but neither should we assume that we won’t be in a much better position to deal with it, and also reap all kinds of other social advantages. But perhaps I’m having a go at you needlessly. Are you actually arguing that pot should continue to be illegal – are you claiming that society as a whole would be worse off if we stopped criminalizing its use? Or are you just pointing out that it’s more dangerous than some of its evangelists claim? If the second, then I apologise, but if the first, then, like I say, the onus is on you to demonstrate the effectiveness and justice of the status quo.

    And I’m admittedly not a pharmacologist, perhaps you can clarify this, but I was given to understand that methadone, while it takes the edge off the withdrawal symptoms, does not produce anything like as pleasant an effect as heroin, and that, as a result, people on methadone programmes often continue to use heroin anyway, so you can’t say that a methadone clinic is equivalent to a heroin prescription programme. Of course, if someone genuinely wants to wean themselves off opiates altogether, then I’m prepared to believe there’s a chance methadone rehab will help, but for someone who, for whatever reasons, is not prepared to give up heroin, then I would rather they had access to a cheap, or even free, clean and legal supply than that they fund the illegal market, have to commit property crime to fund their habit, and have to spend time in jail at a greater cost to the taxpayer than if they’d just been given a prescription.

  22. Methadone programs are essentially maintenance programs, so they don’t really differ from the heroin programs you describe other than in the subjective drug effects the addicts experience. Heroin addicts in the US trade-in their addiction for one to methadone. They remain addicted to an opiate. Methadone still yields the euphoric effects, just to a lesser degree because it has slower onset of action. The methadone also feeds the physical dependence they acquired on heroin. Pharmacologically, methadone is not a significant step-down from heroin. If it were, methadone programs would probably be far less successful than they are.

    If there is any weaning going on in a methadone program, it behavioral and psychological. For example, it provides a means to break the cycle of the associative aspects of drug seeking behavior: to provide a high in a more structured and safer environment, away from the people and places and bad habits that the addict associates with a pleasurable heroin high.

    These associative effects are the same problem a cigarette smoker who is trying to quit faces when she finds that going to the pub with friends is ounterproductive to the cessation objective. Same with heroin addicts, they crave not only the drug, but the environments they associate with the pleasure of the drug. These are powerfully reinforcing phenomena.

    Relapse proves only the strength and the complexity of addiction. I don’t know anything about them, but I’d be willing to speculate that in Europe even with ‘safer’ heroin supplied by state clinics that subjects relapse back to the dangerous drug seeking behaviors that first drove them to a government program (bad friends, needle sharing, etc). That’s because the whole microsociology of their drug habit is an inherent component of the addictive behavior.

    My own opinions about what to do are just my own opinions.

    Decriminalization? Yes.

    Beyond that, the solutions don’t strike me as particularly obvious. People who advocate loosening restrictions on marijuana access are ignoring the effect this will have on the number of new addicts and the cost of their addiction, both personal and societal.

    The drugs should still be difficult to acquire, but I can’t say that I have a solution. I don’t like the idea that kids can be expelled from my children’s private school for marijuana usage. On the other hand, the negative consequences associated with this harsh policy does seem to have a useful deterrent effect.

    How can we achieve a potent level of deterrence, but with more rational consequences? I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I wish the broader discussion were more along those directions than what we’ve read here.

    There is good, well-grounded science out there that can inform this argument and reform advocates not only ignore it, but, as above, dismiss it as somehow elitist.

    To my mind, that knee jerk way of examining a problem and arriving at a solution is no less reactionary than the process that gave us our current drug laws, where someone in possession of a dime bag can be locked up for half his life. That is as absurd as pretending that reducing restrictions carries no cost.

  23. But it may NOT be patently false with regard to teenaged brains which are still developing. I’m the biggest proponent of legalization and decriminalization that there is, but even I can admit that we just don’t have enough information and research (for obvious reasons) that marijuana doesn’t affect teenager’s brains differently than it affects adults’ brains, and it may well be more harmful.

  24. (“The drugs should still be difficult to acquire, but I can’t say that I have a solution”)

    Have you read Transform’s ‘Blueprint for regulation’? It’s online at http://www.tdpf.org.uk . It describes the various regulatory options that are available, and sets out how various commonly used drugs could be made available under different forms of control in a post-prohibition scenario. It’s an unglamourous book, but well worth reading. As regards a potent level of deterrence, I’m not quite sure that’s the right question to ask – at least in the sense that we should wish to deter people from high-risk drug taking behaviour, but I see no reason why we should wish to deter them from low-risk drug taking behaviour, any more than we should wish to deter people from moderate alcohol use if that is what they fancy.
    But no matter; clearly the point is that we need to be looking at what measures will reduce overall harm to individuals and society, which is your concern too. Sorry about being snarky earlier.

  25. Ugg boots are especially manufactured keeping in mind more of a casual look,so it definitely matters if you are to carry a casual look or for a party.

  26. The information provided here that indicate that marijuana use by teenagers, may be on the rise again.interesting.

  27. When I was growing up, those drug programs always feed lies into me and the other students. “Weed kills brains cells.” and “Weed is a gateway to other drugs.” So I did my research and found out none of those false accusations against weed turned out to be true. Now i’m a proud Marijuana user. I’d rather have all my friends smoking pot at home then going out to parties drinking and driving or get lung cancer when their older from ciggs. Kids are going to get into drugs one way or another, so might as well let them stay at home and smoke a joint then get into harder drugs. I’m well aware Marijuana can be potentially harmful, but id rather choose the lesser of two evils. I’m glad the world is finally seeing the truth.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.