Banning Drugs is Anti-Science, Anti-Health, and Anti-Social

“Thankfully now, this is legal. The whole idea of Schedule 1, I think, is going to go away. How bizarre is that? That these molecules are ‘evil’. Please, come on!”

That is a direct quote from celebrity addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky on his new YouTube podcast, “Dr. Drew After Dark”, recorded in California where cannabis is legal for recreational use. This followed a discussion with his guest, comedian Brian Redban, about cannabis’s potential for addiction in some people.

For years in the press, Pinsky, as a celebrity addiction counselor, has used his platform to highlight the tiny fraction of people whose experience with cannabis and other drugs have become addictions. He even said in the The Denver Post in 2014 that cannabis “acts like an opiate” and complained about legalization there, saying “I do wish they would pass laws that enhance health, not jeopardize it.”

Like a hammer sees everything as a nail, an addiction specialist sees every drug as a potential bad habit. But apparently, even Dr. Drew seems to have changed his mind over the years, and now does not believe in banning these substances.

In the eyes of those who think Schedule 1 is a socially sane law to have in place, 100% of drug users should be criminals when, according to Columbia University psychologist Dr. Carl Hart, only 10-20% of people who use drugs become addicted.

And how is a ban on drugs helping addicts anyway? People are addicted to alcohol and tobacco, which are legal, and heroin and cocaine, which are illegal.. Those who wish to control their alcohol and tobacco addictions are free to ask for help without having to worry about someone alerting the police because they might be in possession of a pint of whiskey or a pack of cigarettes.

Locking people in cages does not help them with their addiction problems. It does the opposite, in fact, because banning drugs doesn’t make drugs go away. Banning drugs creates a black market that extends easily into the prison system, a system that is in part our society’s dated way of dealing with addiction problems. Anti-heath, anti-social. Allowing people to battle their addiction problems out in the open severely cuts down on drug use, as we’ve seen in Portugal.

Banning drugs is anti-science. The ability to study Schedule 1 drugs is severely restricted. National Institutes on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow said during a House Appropriations hearing recently, “Indeed, the moment that a drug gets a Schedule I, which is done in order to protect the public so that they don’t get exposed to it, it makes research much harder…This is because [researchers] actually have to through a registration process that is actually lengthy and cumbersome.” Volkow also said that a ban on kratom would “make it very difficult for our researchers to get a hold of the pharmacological compound itself.”

Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin agreed. Referring to kratom, he said, “There seems to be—all the problems we’re trying to untangle right now around cannabis, marijuana specifically, because of Schedule I, I’d hate to see us put another drug there and then have to try to work backwards.”

The War on Drugs is a stupid, barbaric policy that helps no one, hurts society in countless ways, and it’s time it ends. It would help if addiction counselors stop taking every opportunity they have in the media to propagandize about the evils of substances as though they’re selling a problem to potential customers, rather than treating addicts.

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