Zombie Nation: US Drug War Should Target Pharmaceuticals
What if US focused on pharmaceuticals instead?
[Speaking Truth To Power]
As American public opinion shifts on the issue of marijuana legalization, some politicians are now singing a different tune and are slowly agreeing marijuana laws should be changed.
However, many uncomfortable issues regarding the heavy consumption of drugs—mostly, of the legal variety that is being pushed by pharmaceutical companies—are being avoided.
An important question to be asked is: why do so many Americans use and abuse drugs?
In a recent New Yorker magazine interview, President Barack Obama said of marijuana "I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol." The president also said he thought marijuana was less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
In the interview, President Obama articulated the legal disparity economically disadvantaged African-Americans and Latinos face in terms of arrests and being penalized in the courts. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”
He also said: “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”
The president is correct on several points. First of all, we know the last three presidents experimented with drugs. President Bill Clinton admitted he used marijuana but “never inhaled”; which means he smoked of course.
President George W. Bush abused alcohol and there were even reports of alleged cocaine use. Here in New York, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he smoked marijuana and “enjoyed it.”
The hypocrisy of our political leaders on the question of drugs is shameful.
For instance, Mayor Bloomberg at the very time he was commenting about how he “enjoyed” using marijuana didn’t seem to think twice about the fact that his NYPD was systematically arresting African-Americans and Latinos for marijuana at far higher rates that Whites—who use marijuana at similar rates.
The truth is the so-called “War on Drugs” was always a war on Black people—and Black politicians have been just as bad in advancing these undemocratic laws that violate people’s free will.
In recent times, the move toward legalizing marijuana, especially medical marijuana, has been gaining momentum. President Obama, in his New Yorker interview, referenced the latest legalization efforts in Washington State and Colorado.
One of the most maddening things in the marijuana debate is when we hear politicians cautioning about how bad using drugs are. Since when did these politicians give a damn about the long-term welfare of regular people? Currently, we have politicians who are doing everything in their power to kill the chance for every American to afford healthcare—and remove the potential for them to become bankrupt because of an illness.
The most egregious hypocrisy of these sellout politicians is: when they talk about avoiding drugs the use of pharmaceutical drugs is never mentioned in the equation. So, every damn night the American public is bombarded with commercials about some new drug that is supposed to cure our ills. Who sells more dangerous drugs in America than pharmaceutical drug pushers?
These days, many pharmaceutical drugs go through limited safety trials before they are unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Here is a partial list of drugs several sources have been warning about: Actonel, Ambien, Boniva, Chantix, Crestor, Evista, Fosamax, Humira, Lamictal, Lipitor, Lyrica, Premarin, Prempro, Prolia, Provera, Rozerem, Sonata, Tamoxifen, Topomax, Yaz and Yazmin.
The adverse effects these sources say are linked to the aforementioned drugs include: anorexia, blood clots, bloody urine, brain inflammation, breathing difficulties, cancers, constipation, convulsions, coughing blood, deafness, dementia, depression, gall bladder disease, gout, hallucinations, infections, irregular heartbeats, joint degeneration, kidney disease, loss of consciousness, menstrual problems, memory loss, muscle spasms, suicides, ulcers, urinary incontinence, vaginal bleeding and visual impairment—just to name a few.
One would think with legal, dangerous, deadly drugs floating around more would be done to protect the public. However, in this time of loose regulations, pharmaceutical companies are able to irresponsibly flood the market with drugs that haven’t been studied enough to minimize their hazardous side effects.
In some cases, the side effects are far worse that what the particular drug in question is supposed to treat. Could it be this suits these lecherous companies just fine—since, they can keep peddling new drugs that are said to be treatment but never cure anything?
Our self-righteously, paternalistic politicians preach to us about street drugs. Why don’t they ever address the out-of-control dependence many Americans have on prescription drugs? Is it because many of them are afraid of, and, or receive donations from big pharma?
Now, it should be stated that the misuse of anything can have a deleterious effect. Even food and sex, if abused can have negative consequences. Here we should talk about something that always seems to be ignored when politicians talk about drugs: the important distinction between drug use and drug abuse.
This crucial difference is often overlooked.
For example, many of us know alcohol can be dangerous if misused. However, we know not everyone who uses alcohol will crash his car and kill people on our streets—or become an alcoholic. All of us know people, friends or family, who use alcohol. But how many of them can we say become addicted to alcohol? Herein is one of the essential points too often missed: only a fraction of people who use drugs—of any kind—will become addicted.
It isn’t true that using this or that drugs means one will become addicted. The reality is other factors are always present when one becomes addicted to whatever drug. In fact, social, societal stresses always seem to be present in those who become addicted.
But holier-than-thou politicians never want to tackle that harsh reality. Could it be because a thorough analysis of drug abuse will reveal that absent other social and political problems the abuse of drugs would be diminished? Do they ever wonder about the connection between addiction and societal ills like: unemployment, poverty, homelessness, job worries, mental health problems, personality problems, and other social anxieties?
We should be asking why so many Americans need to be medicated regularly? Is it possible it has something to do with the manic nature of American society? Think of it, why do we have so many depressed and suicidal young people walking around—like the ones who end up gunning down innocent people in schools or movie theaters?
Another thing, in this drug debate, we need to talk about is our supposed love for civil liberties and personal rights. How is it that a nation that preaches to the world about individual rights ever thought it was just to imprison people because of what they put into their bodies?
Republicans talk about loving “small government.” So, how is it they think government should have the right to arrest people for ingesting drugs into their body? This fact exposes Republicans as phonies, because, if they really were for “small government” they would see this as an unconscionable intrusion upon the right of the individual.
As for the Democrats, they champion the right of women to have abortions based on the concept of a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. Yet, for years, many of these same Democrats supported the intellectually inconsistent stance of locking up people for drug use.
Fortunately, the American public is waking up to the wasteful impact of these onerous drug laws and manmade crimes.