During the Republican and Democratic conventions, The Huffington Post did a special series entitled "Shadow Conventions" in which writers posted on topics being neglected by Romney and Obama. Among the subjects, was one that has been gaining in media coverage: The War on Drugs. I have some ideas I'd like to share.
Years ago, I read a science fiction novel in which the main character indulges in a piece of toast with hash-infused marmalade. He goes on to reminisce on how drugs were legalized and that persons wishing to use drugs are required to take a drug awareness class and pass a test in order to be issued a card for purchasing drugs.
This would be a sensible approach, and teens should have drug education classes in which drug use is not demonized (nor encouraged) but presented in a manner that shows the dangers of drug abuse, and offers the suggestion that if you choose to use drugs as an adult, do so responsibly and in moderation. In order to keep persons on the moderate path, frequency and quantity of purchases would be limited and persons using hard drugs would be monitored for signs of abuse, indicating illegal purchases.
Statistically, the percentage of the U.S. population considered to be addicts is rather low with an estimate of 2.7 million persons. As asked at one of the debates, "How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? I bet nobody would.”
A radical idea that I'm sure has been thrown out there is: Why doesn't the U.S. government just buy up the supplies of cocaine and opium and control the market? The U.S. has become the de facto "policeman of the world," so why not become the drug dealer to the world and save the money from the War on Drugs, and make a profit selling them?
The U.S. would go to the various countries that are the source of cocaine and heroin and broker deals with the government where those countries will control the production and cut out the middlemen smugglers. The governments of the producing countries will make a profit on the production, and farmers & workers will do better producing a legal crop no longer being controlled by drug merchants.
A unique concept on how using this approach could in turn help curb heroin addiction, would be to restrict the production of heroin from the opium supply and make laudanum available with added twists. Laudanum in its initial 16th century form was a concoction that was primarily opium-based but also included other various substances before becoming standardized in the 17th and 18th centuries. An interesting experiment would be to blend a cannabis tincture with the opium base and have a variety of alcohol options.
An ironic option that can help in treating drug addiction is ibogaine. From the website Ibogaine.co.uk:
"Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid derived from the rootbark of an African plant – Tabernanthe iboga. In recent years it has been increasingly noted for its ability to treat both drug and alcohol addiction. Both scientific studies and widespread anecdotal reports appear to suggest that a single administration of ibogaine has the ability to both remove the symptoms of drug withdrawal and reduce drug-craving for a period of time after administration. In addition, the drug’s psychoactive properties have been widely credited with helping users understand and reverse their drug-using behavior.
Studies suggest that ibogaine has considerable potential in the treatment of addiction to heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methadone, and alcohol. There is also indication that it may be useful in treating tobacco dependence. It has also been suggested that the drug may have considerable potential in the field of psychotherapy, particularly as a treatment for the effects of trauma or conditioning."
Unfortunately, ibogaine is classified as a Schedule I drug (no medicinal value) in the U.S.. Given the closed minds of both parties on other such healing "drugs," the dark age of ignorance shows no signs of seeing the light.
Psychedelics have been in the news in recent years touting the potential emotional healing effects of various forms such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and MDMA (ecstasy). For a nation with a fair percentage of the population on antidepressants at any given time (11% of Americans aged 12 years and over take an antidepressant), along with persons who are depressed but not on medication, we should be exploring every option to help every member of society in their pursuit of happiness. What if helping a large number of persons achieve a more positive outlook on life and elevate their mood to a state of at least moderate happiness came down to taking a trip once a year or every few months along with making changes based on conclusions reached while in a reflective state of mind?
A hearing is scheduled Oct. 16 for a lawsuit challenging the federal government's classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value: Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration. Cannabis continues to be unfairly labeled the "gateway drug" when in fact many use it as a gateway out of other addictions such as alcohol, while others can find it to be more effective than pharmaceutical antidepressants. As America has become more accepting of marijuana as medicine, and depending how the hearing goes, will we see the door open for psychedelic therapy as an accepted medical treatment?
An observation on the "US Aims" from "Plan for Action for Vietnam" by John T. McNaughton (an assistant secretary of defense), that in part applies to why the US continues with the War on Drugs:
The chorus of voices condemning the failed War on Drugs continues to grow; we are long past due time to start exploring both reasonable and radical options other than incarcerating drug users.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.