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article imageOp-Ed: Heroin deaths spike as narcs continue war on marijuana

By Robert Weller     Feb 5, 2014 in Lifestyle
New York - The Prohibition Industrial Complex has mobilized the hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on enforcing anti-marijuana laws to slow a groundswell of support for legalizing it.
This group, given its name by supporters of legalizing marijuana, stands to lose jobs, and in some cases, bonuses or rewards for busting pot dealers.
Corporations are playing both sides on this issue. Some funding groups oppose legalizing it, while at the same time position themselves to cash in on the bonanza sure to come.
At the same time, there has been a spike in heroin use that made it to the front pages when the gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died, the New York Times reports. Vermont reports it is under siege, and the governor devoted his entire state-of-the-state message to it.
“It is ludicrous, absurd, crazy to have marijuana on the same level as heroin. Ask the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, if you could,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in a congressional hearing Wednesday.
He told Michael Botticelli, President Obama’s deputy drug czar:
“Nobody dies from marijuana. People die from heroin. And every second we spend in this country trying to enforce marijuana laws is a second that we’re not enforcing heroin laws.”
Bustle reports heroin use has almost doubled since 2007 from 339,999 to 669,000. Some of the rise is attributed to successes in slowing the illegal sales of prescription drugs like OxyContin.
This, combined with a dramatic need to slow the spread of mental illness in the country, suggests the drug war needs to stop targeting marijuana.
Instead, researchers should be looking at its potential to help with mental illness an many other diseases, say the editors of Scientific American.
Research, they say, is stalled. “New thinking is desperately needed to aid the estimated 14 million American adults who suffer from severe mental illness. Innovation would likely accelerate if pharmacologists did not have to confront an antiquated legal framework that, in effect, declares off limits a set of familiar compounds that could potentially serve as the chemical basis for entire new classes of drugs.”
The Obama Administration has taken several steps in the direction of making such research on cannabis possible by making it clear fewer resources would be devoted to marijuana busts. Another goal is to stop filling costly prisons with people convicted of possession of marijuana.
Across the nation many states are considering joining the 21 that have already legalized medical marijuana.
Another step was the limited legalization of hemp. Yes, hemp, in basic terms, is one of the two major forms of marijuana.
But hemp is useful for making dozens of productions, and a non-psychotic version of cannabis can be extracted from it. It can be used for many, if not most of marijuana treatment forms, without getting anyone high.
The history of how hemp was made illegal suggests it was more because American industrial giants wanted to sell substitutes they made for the ubiquitous product. They killed two birds with one stone, creating a tax that effectively outlawed marijuana and hemp in 1937. In those days they were hard to tell apart.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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