There’s a saying in sobriety circles about why people get addicted to substances: They work. If drugs and alcohol didn’t make you feel better, be more productive, or make you think that you look/talk/behave/sing/dance better than you do, then people wouldn’t be lining up to abuse them. The issue, of course, is that drugs and alcohol are a slippery slope — take too much, and your body becomes addicted. What once worked can quickly become an albatross.
As far as substances go, marijuana is the least addictive and least dangerous drug to ingest, certainly far less dangerous than alcohol which is — as we all know — legal in all 50 states. (I know this from experience.) It’s also true that marijuana has legit therapeutic benefits, which isn’t a claim booze can make. Why, then, does use in America range from illegal to severely controlled? Shouldn’t it be legalized across the board?
Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask. (Though across-the-board legalization is exactly what Canada is trying to do.)
Instead of the “why,” we should be focusing on the “what,” as in, “What good can marijuana use bring?”
I’ll refrain from delving into all the reasons why marijuana can be beneficial for those that smoke it — that’s outside the scope of what I’m going for here. But, as a recovering addict, I know one thing: Where there’s one drug dealer, there are drugs.
Notice the plural form.
I’ve never met a drug dealer, even if he’s just selling weed, that didn’t have access to harder substances whether it’s via a third party or his own stash. Buying marijuana illegally can open up a rabbit hole into a dark realm of opiates, hallucinogens, and other drugs that hold grave consequences. Translation: Maybe it’s not weed that’s the dangerous gateway to harder drugs, but rather the weed dealers.
If alcohol was legalized in order to help combat the crime surrounding bootlegging, shouldn’t marijuana be legalized to help combat the access to more dangerous substances? So far, that hasn’t been a reason favored by lawmakers and politicians.
“At a time when we are trying and working so desperately hard to get help to those who need it, telling young people to not do drugs, trying to eliminate some of the barriers to treatment and to promote recovery, this effort at legalization seems to be directly at odds with those efforts,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told the New York Times.
An opioid crisis is slicing a path through America right now, where prescription-pill abuse is leading to heroin abuse; heroin is cheaper and more potent, but also more dangerous. Healey, by suggesting that legalization for marijuana would be akin to promoting drug usage across the board, is missing the bigger picture.
“There are a few different components that fit into [going from prescription pills to heroin] — the biggest that people highlight is financial,” a drug and alcohol counselor, whose employer asked that he remain anonymous, explained to Uproxx. “They can get an amount of the substance at a different price than what they were primarily using. That, and availability — there’s known places that people know they can go at any time to find it at any and all times. And really, once you cross the rubicon and use the heroin, it seems to be off to the races.”