“The War on Drugs“
Will America ever really be “drug free”??
In 1971, President Nixon officially declared the “War on Drugs.” This campaign has since been evaluated by many as an expensive failure. Campaigns and PSA’s target marijuana as one of the major contributors to the widespread drug epidemic in this country today. However, studies and investigations have proven that there are more threatening drugs we should direct our attention to. Marijuana is accused of being a “gateway” drug. It is thought that people experiment with weed because it is a “harmless” drug, then they progress to harder, dirtier drugs. Actually, it has been reported that America is currently the most over-prescribed country in the world. In 2001, the ten American drug companies in the Fortune 500 list (not quite the same as the top ten worldwide, but their profit margins are much the same) ranked far above all other American industries in average net return (Angell 3).
Myth or Fact?
Remember when you were younger and your educators, parents and mentors would tell you all these crazy stories about how bad marijuana is and how badly your life will be ruined if you smoke it? Below are just a couple of myths and facts, provided by the DPA Network, proving that about 90% of those stories were fabricated.
Myth: Marijuana Causes Crime. Marijuana users commit more property offenses than nonusers. Under the influence of marijuana, people become irrational, aggressive, and violent.
Fact: Every serious scholar and government commission examining the relationship between marijuana use and crime has reached the same conclusion: marijuana does not cause crime. The vast majority of marijuana users do not commit crimes other than the crime of possessing marijuana. Among marijuana users who do commit crimes, marijuana plays no causal role. Almost all human and animal studies show that marijuana decreases rather than increases aggression.
DID YOU KNOW THAT the main funders of the Drug-Free America Partnership who are promoting these myths as truths are tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical industries? This is why we are seeing increased levels of addiction and drug dependencies. Children as young as 3-years-old are being prescribed freely to controlled substances and medications and by the time they are in their teens they are experimenting with higher dosages of stronger prescription medications. Parents also receive more prescription medications than ever before. Doctors write prescriptions to aid in sleeping problems, anxiety issues, recovery from injuries and surgeries, etc. Kids no longer need to go to the streets for their hard drugs, they can find them in mom and dad’s medicine cabinet!
The Office of National Drug Control Policy funded a study that showed, “not only were most of the ads broadcast during the course of the Drug Free America campaign since 1997 not effective in reducing teen drug use but that based on public advertising research, the ads for the most part failed to engage audiences in a way which would have been most constructive for the message of drug prevention” (Varshavsky 5).
Myth or Fact?
Myth: Marijuana is More Damaging to the Lungs Than Tobacco. Marijuana smokers are at a high risk of developing lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema.
Fact: Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to the lungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often than tobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, the risk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. There have been no reports of lung cancer related solely to marijuana, and in a large study presented to the American Thoracic Society in 2006, even heavy users of smoked marijuana were found not to have any increased risk of lung cancer. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lung’s small airway. That indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana.
For thirty years the DEA made efforts to decrease the illegal drug supply on the streets. They had an annual budget of billions of dollars, but failed to make progress. Since 1999 doctors nationwide have been targeted since by the DEA for this reason. The Department of Justice identified these prescribing doctors and pharmaceutical drugs as the “primary drug threat to the US population.” By targeting prescription drug abuse, the DEA now has a measureable, achievable way to justify their budget. Since then, however, corporate power and the justice system have found ways to fund street drug prevention in order to clear the stigmas attached to harmful pharmaceutical companies.
The drug war in America is being wrongly portrayed through the media. By focusing on the stigma attached to street drugs, big pharma is taking the attention off of their products. We watch hundreds of commercials everyday on TV, promoting a different pill for depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, etc. What they try to cover up in these campaigns are the side effects (vomiting, diarrhea, psychosis, and even death).
IS MARIJUANA A LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE U.S. as shown in Drug Free ads? Take a look at some numbers. On average, tobacco reportedly kills about 435,000 Americans annually. Poor diet and physical inactivity kills 365,000 people a year, and on average 85,000 people die every year from alcohol related cases. Adverse reactions to prescription drugs came 4th only to motor vehicle crashes, killing 32,000 people annually. Marijuana has never been reported as the main cause of any death in the United States, with a death toll of zero. (Mokdad).
Is there any hope in changing the way drugs are advertised in the media? Of course. By targeting doctors with the power to write prescriptions, the DEA and ONDCP can significantly decrease the number of deaths associated with adverse reactions to prescription drugs. These fatalities are a direct result of doctors who are over prescribing drugs to any patient who walks into their office. The availability of these meds needs to be regulated at a higher level and big pharma NEEDS to be stopped.
Children as young as five-years-old are developing addiction and drug dependencies to drugs such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin. These drugs have side effects, mild to severe, that include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, agitation, hallucination, psychosis and even death. Doctors convince parents that these drugs will help their child in their academic and social performances; however, they do not inform them that once the child stops taking the drug, the behavior will return (Ramirez). A study about natural ways to treat ADD, confirms that lack of omega fatty acids are one of the reasons children develop the disorder in the first place.
Believe it or not there ARE healthy alternatives for treating kids with ADD/ADHD. Implementing a healthy diet of natural foods, encouraging daily exercise, and applying homeopathic remedies have proved to heal ADD at the cellular level (Ramirez). My father always expresses his frustration about “so-called” disorders like ADD, because back in the day there was no such thing. It wasn’t until the researchers and pharmacists began creating an array of drugs and marketing it to the public that this disorder was defined. What’s up with that? Parents need to spend more time with their kids and encourage more physical activity and energy expenditure. If they did so, not only would ADD cases and the release of prescriptions be reduced but also the obesity epidemic in youths would be confronted.
The focus must not be just on our youth, however. Parents and young adults are depending on pills to get them through life. Whether it is a prescription to aid in sleeping, a pill to help with studying and everyday activities, or a medication to “balance” out emotional issues, we as a nation need to understand we are being fooled. Throughout history, we has human beings have been able to get through life without controlled substances and I truly believe that even though it is constantly marketed to us to make “life seem better”, we are still able to live happily day by day, independently.