With state after state in the U.S.A. legalizing marijuana, I get asked — a lot — Is It Time to Legalize Drugs In America? As a Clinical /Political Psychologist I’m an advocate of awareness, education and abuse prevention and rehabilitation. I don’t necessarily concur that marijuana is the “gateway” drug that leads to more, or harder drugs — like our parents warned us of.
Drug use in general, and drug addiction in particular, are usually directly proportional to ones personality traits. Kids like the “feeling” of being especially “relaxed” and/or high and doing so with their peers. It is an escape for some kids into a style of life that provides temporary escapism, happiness and fun. Most kids as well as adults do NOT however move into hard drugs after using marijuana.
The reason for hard drugs relates directly to the personality problems of the users — to fill some void they are struggling with; feelings of being inadequate, need for dependency, despair, depression, anxiety, and various unresolved conflicts in life. There is also an incredible high from heroin/opiates and other drugs, and hard drugs are not only addictive due to the psychological impact it has on the user, but also creates a physical dependency as well.
These same personality types often become addicted to hard drugs, as we now see with the opiate addiction crisis. But blaming alcohol or marihuana by itself is not supported by actual evidence. Obviously there are millions of people who use marijuana and alcohol moderately every day.
What is most important to consider with the legalization of marijuana in regard to teens — and adults –, is education and awareness. As we learned during the Prohibition Era, government cannot legislate moral behavior. As such, the public’s approach to marijuana should be based in self choices.
Teens and adults alike need to recognize that the direction of– and culmination — of their lives is and always has been about personal choice. And every choice has a consequences,some good and some not.
As chronicled on the website Red Ribbon Resources, Red Ribbon Week was launched in the 1980s after the kidnapping, torture and murder of a DEA agent (Enrique “Kiki” Camarena) in 1985. Red Ribbon Week grew organically to become a national celebration to promote awareness and the elf-choice to be drug free.
By understanding the consequences and potential consequences of ones choices, teens will become adults who make thoughtful and positive decisions.
Government has never been without errors, but I don’t see anyone arguing that making laws to prohibit drugs has been a monumental failure. Resources instead should be spent on prevention, rehabilitation, clinics, and the education that that leads to healthy decision making. Actually, it is the view here that arch conservative William Buckley was right in saying that everyone should be responsible for their own decisions, and legalizing all drugs would in the long run be much more positive.
Drug cartels of course don’t like this approach, but professionals — who promote prevention and treatment — suggest potentially better outcomes with such definitive action.
Just as alcohol is available and legal, drugs if legalized would then require sensible behavior by the user. They become responsible for their own success or failure, having to make the choice of living well or not in contemporary society.
The awareness a child is taught, their innate traits and the characteristics that they develop, combines with the philosophies they embrace and path they choice are the building blocks for success; prohibition to something readily available for the asking in not.
Raise your voice and join the national dialogue on the Red Ribbon Resource survey: Should the USA Legalize marijuana?