Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

USA and Obama fall into narcotic nirvana

The trend for the legalization of marijuana and other drugs is gaining momentum and even the United States is moving towards decriminalization of drugs. President Obama even said that smoking marijuana was simply a bad habit. However, it is likely that the Americans will have to reconsider this position in the future.

Conservative United States has taken the first steps towards legalization of soft drugs and its states were granted the right to define their position on marijuana. The first states to legalize cannabis were Washington and Colorado. Within days the revenue of a store that barely opened in Colorado has reached 1 million.

Even Barack Obama admitted that in his youth he smoked marijuana. He said he thought it was a bad habit and vice, similar to cigarette smoking. He added that he smoked cigarettes in adolescence and over a long period of his adult life. He added that he did not consider marijuana more dangerous than alcohol.

This admission from the leader of the nation is the best advertising of drugs, automatically linking conscious adolescent drug use and success. This is an obvious example of branding demonstrated by the American president. Although any thinking person will recognize that Obama has become President not because of use of marijuana, people rarely think rationally. On a subconscious level the link between drug use and "chic" life is obvious. That is, people start using drugs not even out of curiosity or a desire to have fun, but out of a desire to join the virtual image advertised by the media.

Thousands of teenagers have fallen victim to advertising of the so-called "heroin chic" promoted by fashion magazines and rock stars. Cocaine often called "the drug of gods" was praised by writers and film directors. In the attempts to create anti-advertising, advertising is often created, as exaggerated attention to drugs creates a halo around its grim significance.

However, most addicts have not read Burroughs and Ageev, and have not even heard their names.

Legalization of drugs is under active debate worldwide, and marijuana is discussed the most. There are two types of drugs legalization, medical and recreational. In the first case addicts are given a potent dose daily at public expense. These experiments were conducted at various times in different countries, and their purpose was primarily prevention of crimes committed by drug addicts for a dose. Another goal was prevention of the spread of AIDS, drug hepatitis, and overdose deaths (most likely to occur due to different concentration of the active substance in "street" heroin). At some point Russia practiced methadone replacement when dealing with heroin addicts.  Later it became clear that withdrawal from methadone was no better than from heroin.

A popular club drug amphetamine has an equally sad story.  It used to be prescribed by doctors as a treatment for obesity until it became clear that it would be better for these patients to remain obese than end up with shattered psyche and poor health from taking this stimulant. In the case of legalization of recreational drugs we are talking about the use of drugs for pleasure.

The biggest misconception about drugs is that its most significant harmful effect is reduced to chemical dependency. Indeed, physiological dependence from half of the drugs is quite weak. The problem is that it is not the biggest evil and can be overcome rather easily, especially in a rehabilitation clinic. The psychological addiction is almost impossible to overcome, and it happens only in one case out of thousands. This dependence can be formed when using any drug, including marijuana.

If the chemical side of dependency is somehow predictable and treatable, the psychological side is totally unpredictable (there are people who become dependent literally from the first time), as it has to do with the depth of the psychological structure of an individual, and to date medicine is powerless here.

Vladimir Nuzhny, an MD and toxicologist, provided his comment to Pravda.Ru: "Cannabinoids, substances contained in marijuana, may have a therapeutic effect in treatment of many diseases, for example, they may help prevent the development of Alzheimer's. But marijuana is a gateway drug, and getting high on marijuana people strive for stronger sensations and may move to other drugs, and for these people the risk is much higher. Marijuana or other substances are often used by people willing to change their perception of the world, their feelings. In addition, long-term marijuana use leads to changes in brain activity, decelerated speed of decision making and determination."

There is a growing global trend for the legalization of marijuana and its derivatives. Legalization of a number of hard drugs is actively discussed, at least under doctor's supervision. A popular argument is the assertion that these measures would help reduce crime and drug addiction; that drug cartels would go bankrupt and drug addicts would see doctors for the daily "dose."  Unfortunately, this theory is denied by the practical experience of Sweden that in the early 1960s implemented this model. Soon it was abandoned as the country faced a snowballing growth of the number of drug addicts. Now Sweden is a country with the toughest anti-drug laws under which even the use of drugs is punishable.

Another argument in defense of drugs is a comparison with alcohol that is equally bad but is sold legally. First, not in all countries, and Iran or Saudi Arabia, for example, see no difference between alcohol and drug use. Second, severe alcoholism affects a relatively small percentage of people who use it. After all, there is clearly no comparison with heroin. Even so, if one evil is allowed, it does not mean that another one should be legalized. Why breed temptation?

There is also a "forbidden fruit" argument in favor of drug legalization whose proponents argue that lifting the ban would cause loss of interest. However, this theory is overruled by a similar experience with alcohol and tobacco that are legal but used by young people nonetheless. In the case of drug use the price of such experience may be too high.

Given the hype around marijuana sales in the Netherlands (there is even such a thing as drug tourism when people come to this country only to safely use drugs), and rabid sales of cannabis in Colorado during the first days of sales, the arguments about the "forbidden fruit" do not sound very convincing.

Nadezhda Alexeeva


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