Monday, November 22, 2010

Gateway Drugs-Are We Giving Kids The Keys?

I submit to you that a) marijuana is a gateway drug, and b) statement “a” is true because WE have given our kids the keys to the gate. I hope I have your attention.

The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, is the Federal Government agency responsible for enforcing laws and regulations governing narcotics and controlled substances. The DEA has divided drugs into five “schedules”.

Schedule 5 drugs have been found to have a low potential for abuse; they may lead to very limited physical and/or psychological dependence, and currently have an accepted medical use. Schedule 4 drugs are the same as 5, but users may be slightly more apt to fall into a dependence on these drugs. Those drugs found in Schedule 3 are more dangerous, Schedule 2 drugs are worse still, and Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most hazardous.

My kids all went through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or DARE program in their schools when they were in the sixth grade. There’s no doubt the program has the best of intentions. It sends police officers into classrooms to educate kids about the dangers of drugs and the challenges and trauma they will face if they go down the drug path.

According to the DEA marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. That means, it is as threatening a toxin as heroin, Ecstasy, LSD, and methamphetamines (cocaine is a Schedule 2 drug).

It should be noted that according to the Schaffer Library of Drug Policies (and many other sources), there has never been a reported case of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose. It should also be noted that there are over 5,000 cases of alcohol related deaths every year in America.

Understand me here; I am NOT advocating the use of marijuana! I do believe, however, that IF marijuana is a gateway drug to the hard stuff, WE are responsible for making it so.

Pot is easy to get, fairly inexpensive, and widely used by kids who are interested in experimenting with illegal drugs. I was not one of those kids. I never had a desire to get high or drunk when I was a teen-ager, but I was around pot a few times and I knew kids who smoked regularly. Kids today are no different.

So, here they are, smoking a bud for the first time. They laugh a little, they eat a lot, and they fall asleep. They think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad”. But wait, these kids learned back in the 6th grade that marijuana was just as bad, dangerous, and evil as heroin and Meth.

It is easy to understand why they aren’t afraid of trying the hard stuff—opening the gate and walking down the drug path.

The brain and body do not become addicted to pot. This is not true, however, of Meth. Meth users become addicted the first time they use this insidious drug and they will spend all their money, time, and energy chasing the thrill of that first high. The chase often ends with the user dead or in prison. The same is true of users of heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, etc…

We MUST tell kids the truth. There are many good and logical reasons to not smoke pot—it costs money, and a case of “the munchies” contributes to unwanted weight gain. In addition, smoking causes the heart rate to increase, and the blood pressure to decrease. Researchers found that users' risk for a heart attack is four times higher within the first hour after smoking marijuana, compared to their general risk of heart attack when not smoking.

All in all, the risks associated with using marijuana are far smaller that those attributed to other Schedule 1 drugs. We’ve GOT to tell kids the truth. We are losing too many to drugs.

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