ROBERT RINEARSON: Marijuana abuse leads to expanding path of destruction

Bob Rinearson

Over the last 50 years, nothing has done more to erode America’s moral fabric than the progression of the drug culture. If the strength of a nation relies on the strength of the individual, then too many have already been lost, and, as it appears, many more to come.

Over those years, we have seen the addictions fed by a vast variety of drugs that have appeared whenever the opportunities have lent access, and the desires have the cash.

Heroin and cocaine have been consistent. psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, angel dust, crack, opium, crystal meth, kratom, Ecstasy and mollies have all at one time or another been the rage amongst the users. Communities now face the onslaught of the synthetics. Spice and Bath Salts are the prime examples of those drugs developed by garage chemists to provide a special type of high. Then there are the other man-made narcotics, made not in the back alleys, but in major, high-profile laboratories whose supposed intent was to help in healing, but whose undisciplined prescription and usage have now devastated the landscape. Prescription drugs, opiates and fentanyl are credited for more than 200,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. between 1999 and 2016.

America has borne an unimaginable economic burden in fighting the drug scourge. From the environment to our health-care system to our criminal justice system and productivity loss, it had been estimated by the U.S. Justice Department in 2010 to have cost an overwhelming $215 billion. With the opiate problem, that amount may have doubled in just the last seven years.

But at the top of the drug list is marijuana. It remains the most commonly used drug. But it has also become known as the “nice” drug. Organizations such as NORML The Marijuana Policy Project and The Drug Policy Alliance have pooled their resources and have promoted voter initiatives ultimately being rewarded by numerous states either decriminalizing or altogether legalizing the use of marijuana.

When in November of 2017, doctors in Colorado reported what was believed to be the first pediatric death due to marijuana usage, pro-forces couldn’t react quickly enough in their attempts to dispute the claims. First, they impugned the assertions, and then ravaged those medical professionals and their contentions, lest the pro-marijuana movement lose any support from their disciples or the effects of their propaganda on future voters.

But hand it to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for her transparency. Just last year, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reminded those states who voted for legalization that federal law still listed marijuana as a narcotic and would continue to prosecute cases, Governor Brown made it clear that she wanted no interference in the affairs of her state. Her administration was emphatic that Oregon would be “duty-bound to fight to protect the state’s marijuana industry”. They pointed out the pot business had produced 12,500 jobs. That’s certainly good news for 12,500 dealers who now can consider themselves legitimate. Doesn’t do much for those who suffer from the effects of the drug. But like a dealer, the good Governor seemed more concerned that the tax cash flow was not interrupted.

Putting aside the gateway impact marijuana can have on numerous individuals, there are other very real health concerns. As reported by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, “(Marijuana users) had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs and attempting suicide.” In addition, “Several studies have also linked heavy marijuana use to lower income, greater welfare dependence, unemployment, criminal behavior and lower life satisfaction.”

That certainly should not be a surprise to anyone who has ever experienced a family member suffer due to an addiction to marijuana, or other drug use that started with smoking weed. When the individual suffers, the family suffers. And when the family suffers, our nation suffers.

Bob Rinearson is a resident of Fort Wayne.