The government’s culpability in drug-related deaths

I was checking out Google News as I do every day to see what’s happening around the world, and I saw a story that caught my eye – the one about the Johnny Lewis homicide and death. From what I gather, he beat and strangled his landlady, literally tore her cat apart and then fell off the roof while fighting some people (he was trying to rob?) and wound up dead. Upon first glance, the behavior seemed to generally fit that of people using “bath salts”, or drugs that are continually re-manufactured to skirt laws banning specific chemicals or compounds that do produce some kind of otherworldly experience – people get high to some extent – but also have some nasty side effects, such as going crazy.

With Johnny Lewis, recently known for his role playing Kip “Half-Sack” Epps in the Sons of Anarchy, bath salts don’t appear to be the issues – according to the police at the scene (according to TMZ.com) – it was likely PCP or Meth. Furthermore, apparently this behavior was inreasingly typical of Mr. Lewis. So, the guy apparently had issues that were escalating which were either caused or exacerbated by is alleged drug use.

Government and drugs – fostering criminal behavior

The US Government’s stance on drugs really works to encourage criminal behavior. While people are still responsible and should absolutely be held accountable if they do stupid things when using drugs, such as Johnny Lewis allegedly and likely was, the government’s role in shaping the criminal culture that surrounds drugs and drug use cannot be ignored. Our ancestors used drugs and throughout recorded history drug use has been a part civilization. A lot of famous people used drugs, some of whom had profound effects on today’s innovations. My point in sharing this isn’t to help somebody justify their drug use – they can do that well-enough on their own – it’s to show that drugs and drug use are an integral and arguably invaluable part of our human history. Who knows where we’d be today in the medical, technological or even artistic fields without our drug-using-or-abusing ancestors. The bottom line is that people use drugs; they always have as far as we can see and probably always will.

The way that the government cultivates negative behaviors is by dealing with drugs as a serious criminal offense. Truth is, though, they will probably never be able to “cure” the so-called diseased who want drugs (demand side), so they heavily attack the supply side and arrest and incarcerate the users. Must be they subscribe to the idea that if you can’t trick people into not wanting drugs anymore through misinformation, you can beat the masses into submission by sheer force. Only, that’s really not the case either…

Drug harms study

I found a variation of this study many years back, and it seems fitting: the personal and social harms of popular drugs. Even if the site this study is hosted on has an agenda, the study is well-sourced and gives you direct links to the individual references that support the addiction potential as well as personal and social harms of common drugs.

For the record, as if it really matters, I don’t use illegal drugs. This isn’t because they’re illegal, rather because I just don’t feel the need to use them. I don’t even drink anymore – I got that out of my system just after my 21st birthday. I’ve maybe had 5-6 beers in the past 10 years, if that, and will use a whiskey rinse for a toothache every so often. I used marijuana extensively in my late teens and early twenties, and I do enjoy my caffeine and nicotine, but aside from those two drugs, I have no interest in the others. So, this post isn’t about me feeling like the government is keeping me from using drugs or me trying to justify illegal drug use – far from it. If I want to use drugs, or feel they’d benefit me for some medical reason, I’ll use them – against the law or not.

As for Mr. Lewis, it’s a sad end to what appears to be a troubled life. Too bad he took a life before meeting his demise. Even though he bears the guilt of whatever it is that he did, my contention is that the government plays an integral role in cultivating negative behaviors that stem from drug use, illegal drug sales and trafficking by making simple drug use a serious criminal offense (Federal laws, anyway). While I don’t know what the best answer would be, when 76% of American voters consider the War on Drugs a failure (Zogby, 2008 poll) – the government’s approach just isn’t working.

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