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D.A.R.E. vs. legal dope

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Jan. 29, 2010 at 11:44 am with 5 Comments »
January 29, 2010 11:44 am

As in California, marijuana activists in Washington are trying to legalize the drug. Another argument against it:

By Skip Miller
for the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council’s vote Tuesday to shut hundreds of so-called medical marijuana dispensaries was a welcome move, but the larger battle over pot has just begun.

Across the country, lawmakers and residents of cash-strapped states are edging ever closer to legalizing — and taxing — marijuana. In California, the first state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law, backers of an initiative to legalize the drug expect to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. And a Field Poll last year showed more than half of California voters would support such a move.

Two beliefs drive this push to make pot legal: that new tax revenue will stave off deeper budget cuts and that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. Neither is true.

Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in. Baby boomers who hazily recall their own experimentation with marijuana often are stunned to learn that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive substance — in domestic sinsemilla has quadrupled since the late 1970s.

According to Dr. Sheila Kar, clinical chief of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (and a member of the D.A.R.E America board of directors), marijuana has serious short- and long-term health consequences. It has been shown to cause an immediate rise in the heartbeat by 20 to 30 beats per minute along with an increase in blood pressure, thus increasing the workload of the heart. Marijuana is an irritant to the lungs and contains proportionally more carcinogens than tobacco smoke. It is associated with increased incidence of cancer of the head and neck area and lungs. It works on the brain, causing short- and long-term memory loss and impairing judgment, and it affects the sensations of taste and smell. One of its more pernicious effects is that it reduces inhibitions and can lead a person under its influence to try even more harmful substances.

In other words, there’s a reason the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse. It is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, and more teens are in treatment for marijuana addiction than for alcohol or any other drug. Do we really want this habit-forming drug easier to get, particularly as the nation has made significant strides in reducing illegal drug use?

Between 1979 and 2007, the rate of illegal drug use fell by half. Programs such as D.A.R.E. taught schoolchildren the facts about drugs, alcohol and tobacco and bolstered their critical thinking and decision-making skills so they can do more than just say no. In conjunction with Penn State University, the new D.A.R.E. middle school curriculum has been vetted and proved effective at reducing drug use. In recent years, D.A.R.E. has added units on prescription and over-the-counter medications, abuse of which is growing among teens — another reminder, along with abuse of alcohol, that just because something is legal, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the risk of abuse.

And that abuse costs all of us. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA, at Columbia University estimated last year that substance abuse and addiction cost federal, state and local governments $467.7 billion in 2005. Break out federal spending on substance abuse and addiction as its own budget item and it would rank near the top with defense, Social Security and Medicare.

This is where supporters of legalization like to say that decriminalizing marijuana would free up law enforcement resources and provide a tax base to fund prevention and treatment. In fact, CASA estimates just 13 percent of the combined state and federal substance-abuse costs are attributable to the justice system — a figure that also includes family court, driving under the influence and hard-core drug dealing. The bulk of the costs stem from direct health-care expenses. Imagine what a dent we could make in reducing healthcare costs if we prevented more drug and alcohol abuse.

The California Board of Equalization estimates that taxing marijuana sales the way alcohol and cigarettes are taxed could add $1.34 billion a year to state coffers. But for every dollar in state and federal alcohol and tobacco taxes that is collected, CASA estimates government spends $8.95 to clean up the often tragic consequences of addiction, driving under the influence, domestic abuse or illness.

That’s right: A dollar coming in; $8.95 going out. Suddenly, that $1.34 billion doesn’t seem like much, particularly when one considers that it comes with significantly wider access to a habit-forming drug that has been shown time and again to be a gateway to even more dangerous drugs.

Despite the gains of the past two decades, substance abuse remains a serious drag on the health, productivity and safety of our nation. There is a connection between marijuana and fiscal solvency, but supporters of legalization have it backward. Reducing, not expanding, marijuana use can save billions. It’s time to clear the smoke.

ABOUT THE WRITER
Skip Miller is chairman of D.A.R.E. America, the top drug-abuse prevention and education program in the United States, and a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Miller Barondess. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Stillahippie says:

    Go back and do more research skippie you are making a fool of your self and your organization. First of all its mostly those same baby boomers that are still smoking pot today, they are not addicted or misty eyed, they don’t get high and drive unlike your pals at the local cop bars

  2. Sentence-By-Sentence Analysis

    (1) The Los Angeles City Council s vote Tuesday to shut hundreds of so-called medical marijuana dispensaries was a welcome move, but the larger battle over pot has just begun .

    re: “battle” – Prohibitionists demonize the use of drugs and claim the use of drugs is “epidemic.” Images of “war” are used by the prohibition propagandist to help whip up emotions. (Demonize, War (propaganda theme 6) )

    (2) Across the country, lawmakers and residents of cash-strapped states are edging ever closer to legalizing and taxing marijuana .

    re: “the country” – The survival of society is assured, — says the propaganda of prohibition — as long as drug users are punished (jailed). (Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3) )

    (3) In California, the first state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law, backers of an initiative to legalize the drug expect to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot .

    re: “legalize” – Drug policy options are presented as either total prohibition, or as total “legalization.” No middle ground is contemplated in the “zero-tolerance” world of prohibition. Absolute prohibition executed with religious fervor and purpose! (Total Prohibition or Access (propaganda theme 7) )

    (7) Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in .

    re: “substance abuse”, “abuse” – Any use of an illegal drug is deemed to be “abuse,” weasels the propaganda of prohibition. (After all – it is illegal!) (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (10) Sheila Kar, clinical chief of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (and a member of the D.A.R.E America board of directors), marijuana has serious short- and long-term health consequences .

    re: “America” – Because of prohibition (prohibitionists assure us), society is protected: the community is safe, and the nation is saved. (Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3) )

    (13) It is associated with increased incidence of cancer of the head and neck area and lungs .

    re: “cancer” – It is prohibition, claim prohibitionists, that saves people from drug crazed, whacked out, high flying drug users. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) )

    (14) It works on the brain, causing short- and long-term memory loss and impairing judgment, and it affects the sensations of taste and smell .

    re: “memory loss”, “impairing” – Prohibitionist propaganda claims that horrible dangers are caused by “drugs.” (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) )

    (15) One of its more pernicious effects is that it reduces inhibitions and can lead a person under its influence to try even more harmful substances .

    re: “harmful” – Drugs, the prohibitionist explains, are a wicked bane on modern man. Why if not for the noble drug war (i.e. jailing drug users), exclaims the propagandist, then people will run amok, and violence, death, psychosis, and plague shall cover the land. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) )

    (17) It is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, and more teens are in treatment for marijuana addiction than for alcohol or any other drug .

    re: “marijuana addiction” – Prohibition propaganda often uses crude forms of name-calling to link a targeted drug with groups the majority dislikes. (Hated Groups (propaganda theme 1) ) re: “addiction” – Prohibition propaganda claims addiction is controlled by prohibition.

    re: – Prohibition propaganda rarely misses an opportunity to link crime, violence, and insanity with “drugs”. The propagandist insinuates that prohibited drugs cause evil, and if it weren’t for “drugs” bad things would not exist. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) ) re: “teens” – Prohibitionists forever claim that children are corrupted by drugs, and this is why adult users must be punished harshly. (Children Corrupted (propaganda theme 5) )

    (18) Do we really want this habit-forming drug easier to get, particularly as the nation has made significant strides in reducing illegal drug use?

    re: “illegal drug use”, “drug use” – The rhetoric of prohibition will assume that “use” and “abuse” are identical. (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (19) Between 1979 and 2007, the rate of illegal drug use fell by half .

    re: “illegal drug use”, “drug use” – Prohibitionists try to hammer in the idea that ‘all use is abuse.’ The rhetoric of prohibition needs to deny that many people can use currently illegal drugs without abusing them. (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (20) Programs such as D.A.R.E. taught schoolchildren the facts about drugs, alcohol and tobacco and bolstered their critical thinking and decision-making skills so they can do more than just say no .

    re: “just say no” – Onward prohibitionist drug warriors, fighting the epidemic and scourge in the battles of the war against drugs! (Drugs declared evil by politicians, that is.) (Total Prohibition or Access (propaganda theme 7) )

    (21) In conjunction with Penn State University, the new D.A.R.E. middle school curriculum has been vetted and proved effective at reducing drug use .

    re: “drug use” – “This strategy equates the use and abuse of drugs and implies that it is impossible to use the particular drug or drugs in question without physical, mental, and moral deterioration.” [W.White,1979] (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (22) In recent years, D.A.R.E. has added units on prescription and over-the-counter medications, abuse of which is growing among teens another reminder, along with abuse of alcohol, that just because something is legal, it doesn t necessarily reduce the risk of abuse .

    re: “teens” – Being a prohibitionist means you can never shed too many crocodile tears for the “children”. (As you lustily jail or kill their parents for using drugs.) (Children Corrupted (propaganda theme 5) )

    (24) The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA, at Columbia University estimated last year that substance abuse and addiction cost federal, state and local governments $467.7 billion in 2005 .

    re: “Addiction” – Drug war rhetoric asserts jailing addicts curbs addiction.

    re: – Drugs, scream prohibitionists, cause all bad things in life: crime, violence, insanity, etc. If not for prohibition (i.e., jailing drug users), then criminality, violence and psychotic behavior would explode upon the land, the prohibitionist assures us. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) ) re: “Substance Abuse”, “Abuse” – Prohibitionist propagandists repeatedly assert that “use is abuse.” Details about “using” as opposed to “abusing” drugs are ignored. (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (25) Break out federal spending on substance abuse and addiction as its own budget item and it would rank near the top with defense, Social Security and Medicare .

    re: “addiction” – Prohibition propaganda claims addiction is controlled by prohibition.

    re: – Drugs, claim the prohibitionist, cause insanity, violence, and terrible sickness. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) ) re: “substance abuse”, “abuse” – “This strategy equates the use and abuse of drugs and implies that it is impossible to use the particular drug or drugs in question without physical, mental, and moral deterioration.” [W.White,1979] (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (26) This is where supporters of legalization like to say that decriminalizing marijuana would free up law enforcement resources and provide a tax base to fund prevention and treatment .

    re: “legalization”, “decriminalizing”, “supporters of legalization” – With God on Their Side (prohibitionists assure us), only the continued rooting out of the sinful drug users (total prohibition) will do. All else is portrayed as the slippery slope to total legalization of all drugs for toddlers. (Total Prohibition or Access (propaganda theme 7) )

    (27) In fact, CASA estimates just 13 percent of the combined state and federal substance-abuse costs are attributable to the justice system a figure that also includes family court, driving under the influence and hard-core drug dealing .

    re: “substance-abuse”, “abuse” – Prohibition propaganda claims that all use of any “drug” is abuse. (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (31) But for every dollar in state and federal alcohol and tobacco taxes that is collected, CASA estimates government spends $8.95 to clean up the often tragic consequences of addiction, driving under the influence, domestic abuse or illness .

    re: “addiction” – Drug war rhetoric asserts jailing addicts curbs addiction.

    re: – The rhetoric of prohibition asserts that insanity, crime, and violence are caused by drugs, or are controlled by prohibition. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) )

    (33) Suddenly, that $1.34 billion doesn t seem like much, particularly when one considers that it comes with significantly wider access to a habit-forming drug that has been shown time and again to be a gateway to even more dangerous drugs .

    re: “dangerous drugs”, “dangerous” – Prohibition propaganda rarely misses an opportunity to link crime, violence, and insanity with “drugs”. The propagandist insinuates that prohibited drugs cause evil, and if it weren’t for “drugs” bad things would not exist. (Madness,Crime,Violence,Illness (propaganda theme 2) ) re: “gateway” – Prohibition propaganda is rich with claims targeted drugs ‘lead to’ something even more frightful. (Use is Abuse, Gateway (propaganda theme 4) )

    (34) Despite the gains of the past two decades, substance abuse remains a serious drag on the health, productivity and safety of our nation .

    re: “our nation” – The health of the “community” (read: government) is assured, prohibitionists explain, because drug users are punished. Jailing drug users is thus painted as upholding society. (Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3) ) re: “substance abuse”, “abuse” – Prohibitionists try to hammer in the idea that ‘all use is abuse.’ The rhetoric of prohibition needs to deny that many people can use currently illegal drugs without abusing them. (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (36) Reducing, not expanding, marijuana use can save billions .

    re: “marijuana use” – “This strategy equates the use and abuse of drugs and implies that it is impossible to use the particular drug or drugs in question without physical, mental, and moral deterioration.” [W.White,1979] (Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4) )

    (39) America, the top drug-abuse prevention and education program in the United States, and a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Miller Barondess .

    re: “America” – Prohibitionists assert that the survival of the community, society, the nation, the world, etc. are at stake. Only continued and increased punishments for drug users can be contemplated, because, say prohibitionists, society will otherwise fall apart. (Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3) )

  3. KirkMuse says:

    It makes no sense, economic or moral, to jail or
    imprison marijuana users or sellers. Our jails and prisons should be
    reserved for those who harm others against their will – not marijuana
    users, sellers or growers.

    We don’t jail or imprison those who produce, sell or use tobacco
    products, even though tobacco is a highly addictive and very deadly product.

    We don’t have criminals growing tobacco in clandestine locations.

    We don’t have tobacco producers or sellers attempting to settle their
    disputes with each other with gun battles in the streets.

    If we were to criminalize tobacco, the situation would change.

    We learned our lesson about criminalizing the drug alcohol in only 13
    years. Why can’t we learn the same lesson about marijuana?

  4. KirkMuse says:

    Marijuana is the foundation of our so-called war on drugs. Remove
    marijuana from the equation and the whole drug war will collapse.

    The so-called war on drugs is a huge industry and huge bureaucracy.
    Victory in the drug war is not possible, nor is it the goal. Victory
    in the drug war would mean that the drug war industry and bureaucracy are out of business.

    There are basically two kinds of people who support the so-called war on drugs:

    Those who make their livelihood from it. This includes politicians and
    bureaucrats who are probably on the payroll of the drug cartels. (Al
    Capone had hundreds of politicians and prohibition officials on his
    payroll).

    Fools – taxpayers who have bought into the lies and propaganda of the drug-war industry and bureaucracy.

    Fools – who are willing to deny liberty and freedom to others but
    think that their own liberty and freedom will never be in jeopardy.

    Fools – who believe that criminalizing a substance will make it go
    away. Fools – who think that drug prohibition somehow protects children.

    Fools – who think that giving criminals control of dangerous drugs
    somehow protects children and our society.

    Fools – who think that they live in a free country even thought the
    United States is the most incarcerated nation in the history of human
    civilization.

  5. notSpicoli says:

    D.L. Snead:

    Thank you for your excellent rebuttal.

    DARE is actually a dangerous organization insofar as they are propagandists and attempt to indoctrinate (rather than educate) our youth, and they financially benefit from prohibition–a policy far more dangerous than marijuana itself.

    Note the tone of desperation in the article. The tide has turned and legalization is inevitable.

    Ironically if DARE treated marijuana as a plant (as opposed to a drug) that adults may choose to use and concentrated on educating about the dangers of manufactured drugs, which are dangerous and pose a safety risk, and the most dangerous substance abused in our society, alcohol, they would have more credibility and be doing our nation a favor rather than a disservice.

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