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Combatting the Opiate Crisis with Medical Cannabis

Combat the Opiate Crisis

The opiate crisis is nationwide, but is very severe in North Carolina, and especially in New Hanover County. Wilmington actually has the highest opioid abuse rate in the nation. On average, four people in North Carolina die each day from opiates and opioid related trauma. It is becoming more and more likely that every person in North Carolina personally knows someone suffering from this horrible addiction. Our state government is responsible to protect our life, as well as our liberty, and needs to act forcefully, but intelligently.

Unfortunately, our government's response to drug addiction is to treat it as a war or a criminal matter, instead of the health problem that it really is. Our nation has spent the last 45 years fighting a drug war. We have spent trillions of dollars and incarcerated 10's of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Where has it gotten us? Nowhere! We are swimming in an ocean of opiates and other illegal drugs like never before.

Some of the more enlightened establishment politicians have at least come to the conclusion that drug users should not be treated as criminals, but as the sick people they are. However, instead of decriminalizing or legalizing drug possession, they have merely created mandatory treatment programs. Drug users are still charged with possession, but have the opportunity to avoid jail time if they complete mandatory drug treatment. If the user fails to complete this program, their drug conviction is reinstated, and they are sent off to jail. Often this breaks up parents from their own children. Intelligent people know that forced drug treatment is never going to work. People are only really going to get better if they freely choose to do so on their own and without the state compelling them to do so. Filling up the scarce beds at treatment centers with people who really don't want to be there is irresponsible. Others who need and want help now end up having to waste precious time in a queue.

At the same time, these "enlightened" establishment politicians are calling for a renewed war on drug dealers. They call for setting excessive bail, lengthy prison terms, and the expenditure of even more taxpayer money, in the pursuit of the goal of being the victor in the drug war. These means often violate the Constitution and infringe on our basic human rights. But, according to them, it's just the price that we have to pay in "wartime."

Putting aside the liberty concerns, this approach is completely unintelligent! First of all, it ignores the fact that many drug dealers are indeed drug addicts themselves. They are selling the drugs they do in order to feed their own addiction. More importantly, this approach simply won't work! As mentioned before, we have been trying this approach for 45 years and the situation has only gotten worse. It is the epitome of stupidity to continue to try to bang a square peg into a round hole.

Prohibition never works. It didn't work with alcohol during the Prohibition era and it won't work now. Why? Because it ignores a central truth of all economics - while there is demand there WILL be supply. Regardless of the criminal penalties involved, there always will be a contingent of people who are willing to take the risk in order to make huge amounts of profit. They might charge more in order to take that risk, but they know that their drug addict consumer will pay anything that is needed due to their need for opiates.

It is my belief that we need to concentrate on solving the demand side of the equation. Why do so many people become addicted to opiates, and why do treatment programs so often fail? To answer the first question we need to first realize that most opiate addicts did not begin their journey to addiction because they wanted to get high. When I was in high school (in the early 1980s), plenty of people wanted to get high. Kids drank, kids smoked marijuana, and some of the rich kids would snort cocaine. But nobody did heroin. That was a drug limited to a few lost souls in big cities like New York or Boston. It is no different today. The truth is that most opiate addicts start their journey towards addiction simply because they are experiencing acute or chronic physical pain. They go to their physician for relief. However, non-narcotic prescriptions are sometimes completely ineffective. So their doctor prescribes them opiate based prescription medication. This does mask the pain, but it is also highly addictive. Eventually the doctor will not refill these prescriptions, and so the patient then looks to purchase this medication on the black market. They will soon find out that these pills are very expensive, and as their addiction grows, they will come to the realization that they can purchase heroin a lot cheaper. A full-blown addict is born.

Why do treatment programs so often fail? Besides the fact that people are physically addicted, research is emerging that shows that our brainwave patterns are severely altered when we become addicted to opiates. We simply do not think in a normal manner. In addition, recovering opiate addicts may still be experiencing the acute or chronic pain that they had when they started this deadly journey. The temptation to alleviate the pain by returning to opiates can be overwhelming. Finally, opiate addicts are often treated with methadone. However, methadone is actualy a low grade opiate itself. Is it any wonder that methadone users have a high rate of relapse?

I am not a doctor, and I don't have all the answers to this crisis. However, legalizing medical marijuana would be a HUGE positive step in the right direction. First, it would decrease the number of new opiate addicts. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat acute and chronic pain. In addition, it is not physically addictive. Cannabis is very effective in many, many cases. It alleviates pain, but at the same time it actually reduces the inflamation that is causing the pain. In addition, medical cannabis is beginning to be used in the treatment of existing opiate addicts. Besides helping to alleviate the underlying physical pain that could be cause for relapse, marijuana has been shown to actually restore the brainwave patterns of opiate addicts back to normal. Once an addict starts thinking normally, they can make the rational choice of acting normally.

All of this is demonstrably true. States that have legalized medical marijuana have seen significant decreases in opiate addiction rates. People who persist in calling marijuana a gateway drug, with no medical benefit, are either uninformed or acting on the behest of the large pharmaceutical companies who dispense opiates. People are dying. We don't have time for myths and for the propaganda of corporate special interest. I believe the citizens of North Carolina are overhwelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Once I am elected, I will introduce legislation to do just that on a statewide basis.

Paid for by the Committee to Elect David A. Perry

© 2018 - Committee to Elect David A. Perry
235 Silver Sloop Way, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Direct Legal Inquiries to: Christopher M. Nance, Treasurer
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