Pubdate: Fri, 04 Oct 2002
Source: Reporter, The (Fond du Lac, WI)
Copyright: 2002 Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Author: Gary Storck


The article of Sept. 22 in The Reporter about two people apparently 
overdosing on drugs at the Marian College campus seems at first glance to 
be simply another tale of youthful drug abuse. But there are connections 
that beg consideration.

The article noted the two victims were mixing cocaine, Adderall (an 
amphetamine) and a type of sleeping pill. Adderall is commonly prescribed 
as a treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD-erall). Adderall and 
other stimulants used for the same purpose, like Ritalin, can produce a 
cocaine-like high.

With record numbers of children as young as 2 or 3 being prescribed these 
drugs, they are being passed around among students and used for non-medical 
purposes. Yet, for some, they seem to be effective.

But these legal drugs are also apparently becoming "gateway drugs" to the 
use of illegal drugs like cocaine. In addition, Adderall is an amphetamine. 
So is meth(amphetamine), which we hear so much about these days.

Now if a drug can be an effective treatment for ADD, how can its bootleg 
version be the scourge the DEA is painting it as? Can a drug be both abused 
and an effective, even essential medication?

Which takes us to the DEA's other campaign of late, such as raiding medical 
marijuana dispensaries in states and localities where voters have approved 
the medical use of marijuana. One recent victim was the WAMM dispensary in 
Santa Cruz California, where 85 percent of the patients are terminal. In 
the course of storming WAMM's medicinal pot garden, DEA agents terrorized 
patients, including handcuffing a crippled post-polio victim on oxygen.

Is it possible that marijuana, like meth, is both an effective medicine and 
a substance that can be abused? Certainly marijuana is a much safer 
substance than meth, whether manufactured by a drug company or at a meth lab.

The meth lab version is the modern equivalent of the backwoods still during 
alcohol prohibition.

It's a symptom of the demand for speed. Americans like their stimulants, 
whether it's a cup or 10 of coffee, caffeinated sodas and drinks, No-Doz 
tablets, Adderal, Ritalin, cocaine or meth. Americans like their pot, and 
they like their booze.

Society would be much better off if we began treating substance use and 
abuse as a public health matter rather one of criminal justice. Humans like 
to alter their consciousness. It's time to recognize this basic human 
trait, like most of Europe and other nations like Canada have, and start 
working to reduce the harm, not maximizing it as our current policies do.

Gary Storck

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