How are we going to solve the drug problem? The answer is we aren’t.
Psychoactive drug abuse is as old as recorded history. As long as drugs are available and humans are frail, there will be drug abuse and drug abusers.
The main point for medicine is to follow Hippocrates. First, do no harm.
So many of our drug laws, intended to do good, actually do more harm than good. Witness marijuana.
Will California pass Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which is on the Nov. 2 ballot as a statewide initiative?
Proposition 19, if approved by voters, will legalize various marijuana-related activities, allow local governments to regulate those activities, permit local governments (but not the state government) to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorize various criminal and civil penalties.
Medical marijuana is already legal in California, due to the enactment of Proposition 215 in 1996.
California voters rejected a previous ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in 1972, when that Proposition 19 was defeated by a margin of 66% to 33%.
As a pathologist and toxicologist active in the prevention and treatment of drug-induced diseases for over 50 years, I have often spoken out against the truly insane and harmful laws and regulations that the U.S. has applied to marijuana.
As a country, we now are finally applying both science and common sense to medical marijuana. In addition, we will at least “decriminalize” the possession and personal use of cannabis one of these years. Whether Prop 19 becomes law is up to a very strange voting electorate scene this November.
The poll results are mixed at writing time, but passage seems likely.
Regardless of the fate of Prop 19, it is becoming time for the U.S.A. to elevate a serious conversation about the abject failure, indeed the great harm, of our various wars against other drugs.
Surely there must be better ways than ours to manage drugs such as heroin, cocaine/crack, and methamphetamine possession and use. What we are now doing is a failure.
George Lundberg is a MedPage Today Editor-at-Large and former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.