Treatment Options Are Needed In War On Drugs

Treatment Options Are Needed In War On Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on October 03, 2007 at 07:12:51 PT
By John Milne, Eagle-Tribune
Source: Eagle-Tribune
New Hampshire -- Linda Macia of Manchester rolled her wheelchair into Derry's Pinkerton Academy to see if Republican presidential contender John McCain would endorse medical marijuana. Macia said Sunday that she has a neurological disorder, and marijuana is the only drug that can ease her pain.McCain did not take the bait. "Every town hall meeting I have, someone shows up and advocates for medical marijuana, and, by the way, in all due respect, alleges that we are arresting the dead and the dying, and I still have not seen any evidence of that," McCain told Macia.
"I still would not support medical marijuana, because I don't think that the preponderance of medical opinion in America agrees with your assertion that it's the most effective way of treating pain."Medical marijuana advocates, evidently well organized, have been turning up at presidential candidate appearances during the last few election cycles, one of many groups hoping that by raising the issue in primary campaigns, it will shovel their cause onto the national agenda. In 2004, one activist got Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat, to consider legalization for medical purposes.I have little enthusiasm for questions posed to presidential candidates by activist groups. But debating the appropriateness of medical marijuana, or even whether to make recreational marijuana legal, misses the point.The real drug problem the presidential candidates and their state counterparts should address is how to find an antidrug strategy that works. What seems to work are effective prevention and treatment programs. Parents should ask the politicians why there's so much heroin in northern New England. Drug cops should find out why illegal methadone kills more people in this state than any other drug.For 25 years of the "war on drugs," the nation and the state locked up hordes of marijuana offenders without much success. They're not typically violent offenders. A pothead puts up less of a fight than a mean drunk. But taking marijuana users off the street soaks up limited resources that could be better spent fighting other crimes.Governments save money and prevent new crime by treating addicted lawbreakers - in particular, alcoholics - and enforcing laws aimed at controlling dangerous drugs.I don't want to get into the argument for decriminalization of marijuana, the fight that tied up the Legislature early this year. I don't want to get into a car when the driver is high on pot.Marijuana users are usually nonviolent, but the distributors are no longer peaceful hippies who, like, do their own thing. Weed is distributed by gangsters who are just as prone to violence as the goons who collect gambling debts.Nor do I want to get in a car that's driven by a drunk. Abuse of America's most popular legal drug, alcohol, brings big trouble. Excessive drinking frequently leads to violence. Booze is a major gateway drug, and many drinkers wind up using illegal narcotics and committing violent crimes. Seven out of 10 parole or probation violations in New Hampshire involve alcohol or drugs.Last month, a nonprofit prison reform group, The Sentencing Project, issued a sobering report that documented millions of arrests and measured a shrinking pool of resources. "It is clear," the report said, "that the 'war on drugs' has reshaped the way America responds to crime and ushered in an era of instability and mistrust in countless communities."McCain's GOP rival, Rudolph Giuliani, talks about how data can be used to fight crime.Here's some data: Half a million people are in state and federal prisons on drug-related offenses, 42 percent of them marijuana-related crimes. State data point: Out of 2,700 inmates in the New Hampshire State Prison system, 61 percent say they used alcohol; 12 percent admit to using marijuana.The state's drug problem is underestimated because of New Hampshire's weak data. If some drunk beats up an innocent bystander, that's a crime of violence, not a drug crime. The stick-up man who burglarizes a convenience store to get booze or money for drugs commits a property crime, not a drug crime.The data do show that incarceration for drug-related crimes is going up. And treatment is going down, both here and, The Sentencing Project says, nationally.Most alcohol abuse treatment in our state prison involves watching a video; there's a waiting list for any other treatment regime.The Sentencing Project reckons that no more than 15 percent of the inmates receive any substance abuse treatment before they're released.Instead of asking presidential candidates about medical marijuana, some one ought to ask about how to deal with the nation's real drug crisis. State politicians should be forced to talk about how to treat drug offenders. Prison doesn't work. Who's got a better plan?John Milne is a veteran New Hampshire political reporter and analyst. Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)Author: John Milne, Eagle-TribunePublished: October 3, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Eagle-TribuneContact:  letters eagletribune.comWebsite: Sentencing Project Justice Archives
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Comment #7 posted by ben on October 03, 2007 at 20:06:15 PT
driving high
He Should have also said I don't want to drive with someone on pesription pills of many kinds but you don't hear them say that do you.
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Comment #6 posted by Patrick on October 03, 2007 at 08:51:15 PT
If it weren't for cannabis helping me kick nicotine some seven years ago I would be dead today instead of typing this comment. That's my story and if McCain or any other politician can see no evidence of pain relief from cannabis then it's only because he and the others are not looking or simply don't care. Just my 2 cents.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 03, 2007 at 08:43:43 PT
You said: All of the Republican leading candidates are very, very frightening to me.You took the words right out of my mouth.
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Comment #4 posted by sam adams on October 03, 2007 at 08:37:40 PT
the dead and the dying
classic Rovian tactic: cast scorn on ridiculous claims by the opposition. Claims that were never made!  Arrest the dead? What are you talking about? I guess McCain didn't "see" the WAMM woman with polio being hancuffed to her stretcher.We're ALL dying, by the way. No one is getting out of here alive. Would McCain have us suffer more, so we can show "God" that we were pure? after we die in agony?"Honest, God, I always enriched Big Pharma when I could and I NEVER touched the demon weed! And I always burned a tank of gas every week, faithfully!"All of the Republican leading candidates are very, very frightening to me. All 3 seem worse than anything we've seen yet. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 03, 2007 at 07:54:16 PT
Interesting Sentence
Marijuana users are usually nonviolent, but the distributors are no longer peaceful hippies who, like, do their own thing.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 03, 2007 at 07:45:38 PT
I agree with you. I think that marijuana is a great anti-drug.
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Comment #1 posted by OverwhelmSam on October 03, 2007 at 07:30:37 PT
My Treatment Plan
In order to stay away from the potentially lethal drug - alcohol - I medicate with the only drug which alleviates my addiction to this debilitating drug - marijuana. I understand that marijuana has also helped ween addicts off of meth, herion, nicotine and crack.
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