Sunday, October 31, 2010

Never Enough

There is something that those of us who have used drugs understand and it is this: the first time you get really high you will do whatever it takes to experience that one perfect high again. You will use more and larger doses chasing the elusive high, but it is never enough. The same thing pertains to drug money, people have this idea that all drug dealers get rich, what they don’t know is that drug money is an illusion just as much as the high the drug creates. Sure there are some dealers and smugglers that become wealthy and hang on to their money through violence and corruption, but on the whole most people in the drug world use their money to buy more drugs.


In California we are voting on legalizing marijuana and taxing it as a way to balance our budget. Proponents claim that there is so much money to be made off of marijuana that it will solve our statewide deficit. They also seem to think that it will stop the criminal activity that comes with illegal marijuana sales and distribution. Sounds like an easy answer, but if you look behind the smoke and mirrors you’ll see major flaws in this idea. Legalization would have to be world wide for it to stop criminals from robbing, maiming and killing people to sell it. As long as there is one country that wants it and can’t get it, there will be someone willing to break the law to acquire it. Also people who are loaded make poor decisions, such as driving under the influence, and stealing to get money to buy more drugs. Just look at Mendocino County, whose economy is dependant on marijuana, they allow growing pot for “personal use” and they have had an upsurge in criminal activity. Families are leaving, and users are pushing the boundaries when it comes to how much is enough: one plant, a yard full, or a warehouse is never enough.

As Californians we have tried to balance our budget in other easy ways. The lottery was supposed to help our schools and yet we are in worse shape now, shutting schools, teachers being laid off, and classrooms without basic necessities. I asked one teacher how the money is used, and she told me that she hasn’t seen the money recently; it was only during the first few years that they received small checks to help the classrooms. A few years ago we passed additional Indian gaming to bring in more cash. Where did that money go? Are we better off now?

To look deeper into the problem of legalizing marijuana, we only have to look at how the State implemented the use of medical marijuana. What sounded like a compassionate implementation of a law to give some long suffering cancer patient’s access was turned into a glorified candy store for drug addicts where anyone with an ache, pain or bout of sadness can get Dr. Feelgood to write them a prescription. The last time you had surgery did your doctor give you a handful of poppy seeds and tell you to grow your own morphine for pain management? And yet that is how medical marijuana is being handled. One reason is that some people think that marijuana is a benign drug, and yet when it is smoked or ingested it alters reality, perception, judgment and reaction times, and in some people causes paranoia. Why isn’t it being treated like any other prescription drug--picked up at a pharmacy with a legitimate prescription? And just as important, why do we pass laws in our States that go against our Federal laws? Think of our law’s as stop signs; some people are going to run them, but most will obey the law keeping themselves and others safe.

We need to stop before we make another poor choice. Let’s do the right thing this time. It isn’t that we lack money: we have some of the wealthiest people in the world living here, and we are talented and resourceful. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get rid of government waste; make better decisions on how to use what we have, and create jobs? Take it from someone who has battled addiction: the easy way always seems like the right way but in the end it is never enough.

2 comments:

Alan said...

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Janet Riehl said...

Pam,

Thanks for the thoughtful analysis on California's efforts to fund itself.

I lived in Lake County for many years where one could hardly drive five miles without bumping into another Indian casino.

May California find healthy ways to raise much needed funds.