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Frank Talk on Marijuana

March 25, 2008
by Gary Enos
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Whether you applaud or gnash your teeth over U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's intention to introduce a marijuana decriminalization bill in Congress, you should be aware of some important contextual points about Frank's plans. His home state of Massachusetts itself is becoming a policy battleground regarding marijuana. A referendum drive and a bill introduced in the state legislature seek to have Massachusetts join about a dozen other states where possession of an ounce or similar amount of marijuana leads to a civil fine rather than a criminal charge. When I study Frank's comments, I'm reminded of a barrier addiction professionals often cite in treating problem use of marijuana and of prescription drugs: the perception among many users that these drugs can't really cause harm. I'm interested in whether you think efforts to decriminalize some marijuana possession offenses compound that problem for the treatment community.

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We all have some kind of excess, call it Human Nature. Who will be authorized to channel funds into prevention or treatment? Politicians? This notion is more remote from reality than a lost planet. Prevention? What are the Stats regarding success,effect and progress of prevention programs? And who is providing these outstanding numbers to justify more $? Consider counterdiction. Would we have the same opinion when educating our children about POT? I didn't think so!

Just b/c someone is arrested with a "small" amount of marijuana doesn't exclude the fact that there may be a pound of it on their kitchen table. This newly proposed law discounts that there may be addiction present or that this person may be dealing the drug. I have seen many familys ruined by Marijuana. I worked for 8 years in a 6 month residential drug tx facility for adolescents where most of the teens had crossed over to addiction to "just" pot. Marijuana is not the benign drug we once knew. I feel that there should be some guidelines to offer further evaluation by a licensed drug and etoh counselor for those arrested with cannabis. Perhaps a deferred sentence can persuade them to get help if they need it.

I have been a substance abuse counselor for 19 years and would support decriminalization of marijuana. I have worked with countless people who faced serous legal and job related problems just because of this substance, and I feel the money could be used better for treatment. I wish I could state my position professionally, but this view is often considered blasphemous.

I personally think it's a good idea. People smoke, drink, and eat to excess but we don't put them in prison for that. Smoking pot, though, certainly isn't a good thing to do for your body. If posession incurs a civil penalty, those funds should be automatically put in prevention or treatment causes. Maybe that's something everyone can agree on?

Gary Enos

Editor

Gary Enos

@apeditor

www.addictionpro.com

Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He...