Time to rethink drug classifications, enforcement efforts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A pair of Nebraska state senators hope to get medical marijuana on a state ballot next year — yes, that’s 2020 — and thousands of words and hours of video have been devoted to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana.

Completely separate is the issue of legalized hemp production, and proponents are doing their best to keep the two products as separate as possible in an effort to boost a legitimate industry.

As for marijuana, proponents of legalization make a good point when they say political considerations have played too large a role in how the drug is treated.

Classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a drug with no accepted medical use and potential for addiction and abuse, marijuana is part of a class of drugs that also includes heroin and LSD.

Meanwhile, cocaine, methamphetamine and opiods are Schedule II drugs.

According to federal agencies and addiction experts, the 12 most addictive drugs are amphetamines, benzodiazepines (anxiety drugs), methadone, GHB (for treating narcolepsy), nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy or Molly) and oxycodone.

Ideally, we could feed all the factors into a computer which would run an algorithm and recommend the appropriate combination of treatment, legislation and enforcement to effectively deal with the problem.

You’ll notice that more than a few of the drugs have massive industries — and lobbying money — behind them, especially nicotine and alcohol, and we’ve had painful national experience with the outright ban of the latter, not to mention overfilling our prisons with offenders involved with the other addictive drugs.

Somehow, leadership must be found which will allow us as a nation to stand back and take a dispassionate look at each substance’s addictive qualities, harmful effects and most effective means of dealing with the problem. For that the happen, political considerations, emotional reactions and industry influence must not play a part.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: