Archive for November, 2009

What’s the Death Toll of the Drug War?

Posted in Drug Reform with tags , , on November 28, 2009 by corecompany

Google “Death toll in the drug war”. Not much comes up, mostly the content is about the number of people killed in Mexico. What about here in The US?

It was Nixon who declared war on drugs, which means the war on drugs has been going on for a very long time now. Sure there are statistics or records of some kind kept as to the numbers of people who die in the drug war. What is the body count? Does anyone know, and if not, how come? Why is there no discourse in political arenas about this?  It’s staggering, really. I can’t come up with a good answer. How did the “just say no” culture win over science, logic, personal freedoms?  Have we just accepted this as the way it is? Will we ever have a cultural first step?

An article in Esquire by John H. Richardson tries to come up with some numbers about the death toll in the drug war. The numbers, rough unresearched, and speculative are amazing. With overdoses the estimate is 15,223 dead, annually. The number in Iraq is 4,684 over the last seven years.  The estimate for what the drug war costs is $52 billion, yes, billion. That seems like a lot of money to spend trying to control a personal choice. More offending then the cost of life and financial resources is that the war is completely ineffective. In other words, we pay a huge tab to kill people, shatter families, incarcerate our own people, all because we don’t like that people get high?

I am never quite sure which layer of the drug war bothers me the most. At the moment I think it’s that we just keep accepting this, keep letting government leaders brush it under the rug and not really take on the issue. Will there be a time in history when we look back on the drug war with shame? Will future generations look at it as a form of genocide? They might. ‘There was an era when we used to shoot drug users or try to incarcerate them, we denied them fourth amendment protection because we didn’t like them.”  Email your senator, your congressman, and while you’re at it, shoot an email to Gil Kerlikowske and ask: “What is the death toll of the drug war?” Go on, just ask.

Will California Legalize Marijuana?

Posted in Drug Reform with tags , , , on November 16, 2009 by corecompany

I say it not less than 5 times a week, “the AMA has recognized alcoholism as a disease for decades”.  It’s an arrow in my quiver used to penetrate denial in some way. Sometimes it’s just a wiseass comment. I like to pull it out when people say ‘I don’t think alcoholism is a disease”.  “Really Dr., the AMA disagrees”.  IS the AMA a friend to our culture, our cause, to us pinko reformers?

While the AMA is asking for more clinical trials regarding the medicinal value of marijuana, they are careful to distance themselves from the long-haired, twinkee eating, Cheech and Chong  loving complacent pot culture. The AMA is clear  that they do not endorse any state based medical marijuana programs and does not support the legalization of marijuana. Why not AMA? It doesn’t take an MD to know that many of the substances that freely flow out of  doctors offices are way more dangerous and harmful than Marijuana, so why would a doctor not feel comfortable writing a Marijuana prescription?  How may lives are claimed by Percocet, Vicodan, Oxycodon and/or Zanax? More than we know, certainly more than people are honest about. How many marijuana overdoses are there annually? ZERO, ZERO!!!!

Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive of five schedulings. Schedule 1 drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medicinal use (tell that to someone having chemo), and a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug. Another schedule 1 drug is heroin……. Less restrictive substances in the schedule 2 arena include cocaine. What? Our government believes that marijuana needs more restriction than cocaine? Does anyone really believe that drug policy is working? Where is the outcry for the massive reform of drug policy in this country?  The lack of discourse is staggering. Where, oh where, does alcohol fall into all of this? It seems again, that it gets a free pass.

Looks like California will be the first to vote on legalization of marijuana. Ok, Cali, let’s see it.

The NFL, Congress and Drugs…

Posted in Current Events with tags , , on November 5, 2009 by corecompany

nfl

The NFL has sought the help of Congress, yes, Congress, the big system in the pretty white building that your tax dollars finance, to help them with their drug policy. It seems that some Minnesota Vikings found a loophole in the NFL’s drug policy and the league has taken it to congressional hearings. Is this really a congressional matter?  One would guess that congress has some big important stuff to do.  Why cant the NFL draft and actualize their own policy. Has it occurred to the NFL that they need to revisit their policy and see why it doesn’t work?

Sports has always been a confusing system in which to draft drug policy. For starters, it is fueled by alcohol. Sporting events are swimming in booze, financed by beer consumption so right away there is a system tolerating drunkenness. Beer and football go together, like peanut butter and jelly or crack and hookers.  The layers of complexity with sports and drugs happens quickly and most policy is standard “just say no” rhetoric.  This culture canonize athletes and then demonize them when they show weakness and human frailty.  It’s easy for us to condemn the likes of Michael Vick without knowing his story, culture, upbringing, etc.  Why do we expect that athletes are above using and that it is something that they can be warned out of doing. An NFL career has a very short shelf life, it makes sense to me that  players will look for every advantage they can find while they still have earning potential. This is a mental health issue, rather than burdening congress with this, shouldn’t the NFL be accountable for their own actions? Why did congress agree to this? Blame, scapegoating and buck passing never gains traction with any chemical misuse issue. That is one of the few absolutes in chemical dependency policy. It doesn’t work in schools, families, communities and it won’t work in the NFL.

Rather than calling congress it would make much more sense to hire a committee, headed by a psychiatrist with specific addiction training, to address these matters. The committee should include a peer. The NFL should have a mental health professional as part of their team, not a performance enhancing “sports psychologist” but a social worker. There should be an intake, a biopsychosocial , with every player, quarterly meetings with the mental health worker. Why is this hard?

Representative Lee Terry (R. Nebraska) says “We will be much harsher on cleaning up the sport than the directors of the league.” Great. More, “tough on crime” ego driven nonsense. Ok, Representative Terry, if you are going to “clean up the sport” start with the beer bottles in the parking lot.