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A nation of "Junkies"?

From the Series
 "The Other Side of the Coin"

L. J. White

Americans probably "Fired Up" more “Joints" than consumed Mac Donald's and Burger King hamburgers combined.  Ounce per ounce alcohol consumption surpasses bottled water.  Cocaine is like a "Blizzard" covering even in the southernmost states.  Billions of taxpayers dollars are spent every year in an attempt to eradicate the problem, while more than likely double the amount of money is made by "Drug Lords" and "Pushers". 

The illegal cash is used for more drug production, perhaps terrorist activities and certainly other illicit ventures.  Meantime countless lives are lost in the so-called "Drug Wars", including innocent people and law enforcement officers.  American families are being devastated by the addiction regardless of financial status, education or religious denomination.

Children of elementary school age are being approached by pushers and turned into "Junkies".  This problem of immense proportion and catastrophic consequences seems impossible to bring to an end.  Are the tremendous effort and money spent by the US Government to stop Drug Traffic and consumption paying off?   Is the end in sight?  Are there better ways to end this horrifying situation affecting a large segment of the American population?  

In order to have steady lucrative supply there has to be a demand first.  It is obvious that American demand for illegal drugs climbed sharply since the early to mid sixties.  The Government budget allocated to combat the problem also rose sharply over the same period.  This leads to larger profits for the "Drug Lords" and their "Puppets".

Some private and Government-funded organizations came into existence offering "Drug awareness" and "Rehab" programs yielding some success. However, these types of organizations are costing a great deal of money and employing countless hours of mostly volunteer work.  Drug related crime statistics are soaring as more and more robberies, murder, etc. are committed to finance the habit.

Even at corporate levels, companies are being embezzled, as high-ranking corporate officers become addicted, Government officials of all branches are not exempt.  The use of narcotics is widespread also under publicized.  Financial organizations, government officials, private industries among others are getting involved in the lucrative business of  "Illegal Drug Trafficking", further adding to the spiraling problem.  Is there a realistic answer that offers a foreseeable end to the drug problem?

Stiff penalties for the pushers and perhaps even users have been suggested, some even implemented.  The problem is, we do not have correctional facilities large enough or the budget to support them.  Furthermore, what can we do with the countless teen and sub-teenagers using drugs? 

Thousands upon thousands of parents who do not use drugs are confronted by the realization that their offspring are technically  "Junkies".   When the horrible reality is discovered, the parent can do very little and the suffering and pain begins, sometimes ending up in irreversible tragedy. 

Many organizations advocate "Parent Responsibility" for the child’s behavior.  In the case of the H.R.S, this federal organization legally pursues, harasses and invades the privacy of innocent, concerned and honest parents.  They contest lack of parent involvement, supervision and even willful neglect.  In the majority of cases, this is simply not true and this philosophy, now widely used and accepted, is completely counterproductive.  The H.R.S is also a tool for the youth to use against the parents, literally tying the parent’s hands.

Television programming address, the "Parent Responsibility" syndrome making matters even worse.  Parents do not have complete control over their offspring.  School, television, media, friends and music, by a large percentage, outweigh parental influence.  Many children are introduced to drugs in the school environment completely rendering parents as "Victims". 

Short of incarceration at home without formal schooling or television the youth of America are exposed to the drug problem, many becoming drug addicts.  A lot is left to be desired of the Educational System and a lot of responsibility should be placed upon it, however that is a different subject all together.

Alcohol is a legal substance taxed by most Governments also a tremendous industry when bar, nightclubs etc. are considered.  Alcohol in America is responsible for countless loss of lives, also an equal amount of personal tragedy.  Looking back at "Prohibition", back in the twenties, is not difficult to see how useless it was, a small example of what is happening today.

Since the demand for alcohol did not decrease, legalization was necessary.  Although the problems related to alcohol remains, some controls are possible.  By the tax, revenues rose and obviously "Bootleggers” went out of business.  Laws such as D.U.I are doing a good job in keeping the highways relatively safe from drunk drivers.   Alcohol is part of society and consequently society cannot hide or suppress the demand.  Governments and people alike can only hope to control its abuse.

Marijuana as opposed to cocaine and other drugs is not nearly as destructive as alcohol and although the thought is controversial in nature, it should have been legalized many years ago.  Legalizing Cocaine is even bolder and definitely a highly controversial issue.  A proposition of that nature would make anyone an instant undesirable.  What would happen if the US Government legalized not only Marijuana but Cocaine as well among other substances?  Will the US become a nation of "Space Cadets" and "Junkies"?   Not caring much how I am judged on this issue, let us take a hypothetical view at a very possible scenario.

If Cocaine and Marijuana became legal, some very interesting changes are likely to occur.   The American Government could bring forth regulations as to the production and sale of Cocaine and Marijuana by licensing U.S. companies, enforcing strict price and quality parameters.  Retail establishments for the now legal drugs would be more or less like "Liquor Stores" or incorporated into it. 

By strict price control legislation and after taxing market price of the substances should be far below attractive level for outside production and illegal traffic.  This action would immediately put the "Drug Lords" and "Puppets" out of business.   A by-product of this measure and other regulations and controls that could be implemented would be the attainable accurate statistics of consumption. Soon after, the huge network of drug enforcement personnel, costly equipment and operations could be virtually dismantled.  The revenue from taxation and the savings attained from the not necessary drug enforcement machine will be of great financial help to the taxpayer.

What about the possible and undeniable reality of drug addiction in minors, will it not reach epidemic proportions?  Hardly, the use of drugs by minors now is of epidemic proportions.  If regulations similar to alcohol are incorporated and added to, far too many to discuss here, minors although socially exposed, will not have the "Uncontrolled Availability" they now have.  As for the social exposure of minors, lets face reality, today they are not only socially exposed to the drugs but to the crime associated with it as well.

What about the adult population consumption, will it increase now that prices and availability are within reach?  Even more frightening; Will it become as alcohol is "Socially Acceptable"?  Perhaps, but let us analyze a few things first.  If a parent tells a child of any age "You Can't", I bet you a dime to a dollar he "Will".  This somewhat primitive and a simple statement could very well apply to the adult population drug consumers or consumers to be. 

The "Sociably Acceptable" conditioning is also a bit wishy-washy.  If drug demand decreased there would be no multibillion dollar "Drug Traffic", so one must conclude that unfortunately, society wants to use them, acceptable or not.  Additional benefits could arise from legalization, the considerable savings in drug enforcement and new tax revenues.  These could be better more comprehensive drug programs and education could be provided to the public. 

It could be construed by many that the Government is contributing to the corruption of the nation and that all-moral values are now lost.  That would be a horrifying statement that would "Stick" with an apparent truth behind it, however reality cannot be overlooked.  America's values, not just toward drugs, are vanishing day by day right before our eyes.  I personally do not believe that the consumption of Marijuana and Cocaine by the adult population would significantly increase after legalization. Perhaps the opposite would be the case. One thing I can just about guarantee, children’s consumption, addiction and availability will certainly decrease drastically.

The majority of parents in America are decent, honest and moral individuals that would never lead their offspring to destruction.  Now the way it stands, parents have no idea of whom, when or how their children are getting drugs and by the time they find out, it is too late.

Other things come to mind when we look at the hypothetical legalization of Marijuana and Cocaine.   Will Colombia cease to exist?  This question is not a joke.  What about certain American underworld interest, what will they do?   Just how much money is involved in this huge "Illegal Traffic"?  How many people are involved, who are they, does anyone know?

In a period of less than a month, while anchored off Puerto Rico's Bay of Boquerón, a few drugs "Busts" took place on the Island.  The quantity of drugs, mainly Cocaine, seized exceeded one billion dollars.  Keep in mind this is only what was confiscated.  Probably a small amount of what comes through this Small Island.  In the same period, I heard of murders, executions style, just about every night on the local news, many of them were minors.  The illegal drug business probably surpasses any other illegal business in the world today.  With that in mind, closing it down is  "Easier Said than Done".

Legalization of Marijuana and Cocaine even though hypothetical and certainly controversial is a very real option to the problem.   The real question is not whether it will work or not but is the American public and Government mentally flexible enough to even ask the question?

The present approaches are far too costly, yielding little results if we look at the overall picture.  New ideas regarding this problem must be seriously looked at for feasibility.  Why let the "Drug Lords" get richer as they destroy America's youth while we spend billions of dollars on drug enforcement and related programs with no substantial results?  Let us seriously look at other avenues to end this national tragedy.   New idea is a good idea as opposed to no idea at all, or one that does not work and, in practice, ineffective and too costly.

As a Nation we must face the problems realistically and find workable solutions leaving aside personal feelings.  The truth is that American Society is plagued by drugs, simply because Americans use them creating a huge demand

This horrible evil has touched the lives of millions of Americans leaving them scarred and destroying their lives.  Drugs in America have claimed the lives and incapacitated large amount of innocent children and adults alike.  Either the American people as a whole suddenly decide to stop the use of Marijuana and Cocaine, highly unlikely, or they should begin to look at legalization as a real option.

We as Americans cannot blame the Government for the problem.  It is an issue for the people to correct and realize the proportions and the Government to represent the people and take proper action.  Perhaps it is about time we looked at our values a little deeper and formulates the correct questions.  Do we want, as a Nation, to continue the use of Marijuana and Cocaine as a favorite national pastime?  If so, should we legalize the substances enabling us to achieve better control? .  If Americans were honest enough to entertain those questions then they might begin to see..............


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