Drugs Kill. Drugs Save Lives. Which is it? [The Hub Debate]

The following is a submission for The Hub Debate. Participants in  submit 500 words or less in support or opposition to a statement.

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Resolved: With the passage of HB105, Utah has embarked down the slippery slope of legalized marijuana.


Legalizing MarijuanaSeveral years ago, I was in Amsterdam on business, a city known for its permissive laws regarding drug use. I kept seeing people curled up in the open and asked my host why. He stated that most were drug addicts. I looked closer and saw the faces of mostly young people who looked very old. That experience is a vivid reminder that drug use can be detrimental to society.

In my own neighborhood, we have a drug rehabilitation center known as “House of Hope” for women with children. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with residents and found story after story of heartbreak with drugs robbing people of a hopeful future.

Talk to families who watch loved ones go through a life of addiction and you’ll get a whole different perspective than the intellectual discussion about whether various illegal drugs should be legal.

Still, with the damaging toll on human beings from drugs, do you ever wonder why alcohol and tobacco are legal, but marijuana is illegal?

Or why various legal drugs need a prescription, while others are sold over the counter?

Don’t think about it for very long or you will get a headache.

Then add that governments levy “sin” taxes towards alcohol and tobacco on order to fund government services which then incentivize government to promote additional consumption of these undesirable substances and you get an even bigger headache.

With all the statutory mess, there are real people who suffer from life threatening or chronic medical conditions who can’t find relief from pain and suffering in legal remedies and want to use illegal substances to find relief. In the case of HB 105, those with epilepsy are authorized to use cannabis extract.

However, many more conditions and treatments exist.

I’ve had a family member, not with epilepsy, with a life threatening condition. There was a will to live that couldn’t be satisfied with what was legal in the U.S. In an era of personalized medicine, a licensed medical expert and a patient are much better able to figure out best treatments than a bureaucratic Food and Drug Administration.

“Right to Try” laws are springing up around the country. These laws allow the doctor to apply his expert opinion on what is needed to individual circumstances. They understand that sometimes the side effects of a treatment can be as bad as the condition. In the most intimate of choices for a person, the burden should be in the hands of the licensed medical expert and patient.

I found an relevant op-ed by Raymond L. Gover from Pennsylvania that sums up this issue well. Here is a link: http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2014/05/for_some_hope_is_a_four-letter.html

A discussion about the war on drugs can wait for another day as slippery slopes abound on drug manufacture, distribution, use and its impact on society, but for those who are suffering from chronic illness I say: let them have access to whatever treatment, legal or illegal, gives them the best prognosis for their future.


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