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September 07, 2014

Debunking the false "Drugs abd Alcohol" mantra

Mark Kleiman is a Professor of Public Policy at UCLA; he has long specialized in drug policy and has achieved a position of considerable prominence by claiming to be a moderate, while really taking a position that fully supports our lunatic drug war. Ironically, he came to my attention early in my own career as an activist opposing it. As I've mentioned before, it was an Op-ed on meth that Kleiman– then at Harvard– co-authored with psychiatrist Sally Satel in 1995 that brought him to my attention. While I've yet to meet Dr. Klieman, I've kept track of his maddeningly disingenuous position on American drug policy over the years and have marveled at how uninformed it is– particularly on the subject of marijuana. In a nutshell, he takes Richard Nixon's Controlled Substances Act seriously and thus considers use of marijuana and alcohol to be synergistic, while– in fact they are antagonistic, a common error stressed ad nauseam by "antidrug" ads on TV that inevitably link "drugs and alcohol"

In fact, chronic pot smokers do not drink much. The late Dr. Tod Mikuriya published about a "substitution" effect; what my more recent interrogation of users uncovered was the mechanism by which that happens. It's first necessary to reject another false assumption: the "age of consent" at which youngsters are allowed to drink (21) or use tobacco (18) legally are observed by most. To the contrary, the more emotionally troubled pubescent teens are, the more they feel impelled to experiment with drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are usually the first two because they are both "legal' and thus more available, but cannabis has been a close third since the Sixties.

Although exact figures are hard to come by, it's no secret that most youngsters start experimenting with cigarettes and alcohol at age twelve, or even younger. What my data show, however, is that the most common consequence of becoming a repetitive pot user is that interest in alcohol is quickly reduced and those who were already smoking cigarettes begin trying to quit. Rather than a "gateway" into drug use, cannabis is a gateway out of problematic use.

The reason has to do with the most obvious therapeutic effect of inhaled cannabis on those who respond to it: it's a feeling of "relaxation," that comes from feeling more comfortable in one's own skin.

As it turns out, the same provocative factors that operate in childhood to impel prepubescent youngsters to try drugs lead them to try the most available first: cigarettes and alcohol since 1900 and before, and cannabis since the early Sixties.

Unfortunately smoking is the quickest way for any psychoactive agent to reach the brain and watching youngsters smoke is an almost universal turn-off for adults. For that reason, even after cannabis is "legalized," a more acceptable delivery system will have to be found for it to become as accessible as will be needed.

Suffice it to say that there are some interesting developments that promise to revolutionize both the acceptance and use of cannabis.

More on those developments soon.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 7, 2014 01:16 AM