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Treading a slippery slope with rush to embrace drugs

            A headline last week probably drew a good bit of attention, Americans Love Getting High came under a section labeled “Health” on The Morning Brew’s newsletter.

            Boy how times have changed. Not only is weed considered less and less diabolical but it is occasionally touted for health benefits.

            The article, “Experiencing the world without chemically altering your brain is going out of style” cited a study called Monitoring the Future from the University of Michigan that said the use of cannabis and psychedelic drugs among US adults hit all time highs last year. The milestone, it said, decades in the making, was likely fueled by several factors: loosened laws around the substances, changing public perception of hallucinogens, and more Americans self-medicating for mental health issues.

            The underlying explanation speaks poorly of the current state of affairs — more and more Americans need something to help them cope.

            The study showed that 44% of young adults ages 19-30 and 28% of adults 25-50 reported using marijuana in the prior 12 months, a record high for each age group. And more than 11% of young adults said they used cannabis on at least 20 of the prior 30 days, double the share from a decade ago.

            What’s more, psychedelic use is also up dramatically. About 8% of young adults said they used mind-altering drugs like MDMA and psilocybin (shrooms) in the prior 12 months, more than double the rate from 2012.

            The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in their reporting, said that “nowhere is the rise of psychedelics more pronounced than in Silicon Valley, where taking regular small doses has become a cornerstone of corporate culture. The Morning Brew joked that tech elites have swapped out the old martini’s for “ketamine, LSD, and magic mushrooms to alleviate anxiety or help them think of a revolutionary business idea.”

            Names we’ve all heard of have jumped on the bandwagon. Elon Musk has taken ketamine, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sometimes does shrooms, and the major VC firm Founders Fund has thrown psychedelics-infused parties, per the WSJ.

            It’s hard to believe that powerful psychedelics substances will ever be considered main stream healthy or that business elites taking them would set a good example.

            But clearly the culture of the nation is changing and we can’t blame it as something only in California.  It’s here — read our sheriff’s beat.

            Just consider, the number of American workers testing positive for marijuana hit a 25-year record last year, according to an annual survey from Quest Diagnostics.

            More than two-thirds of states allow medical or recreational use of cannabis.

            A growing number of states have put up the white flag and legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. And studies find that a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalization.

            According to a Pew Research Center report, only one-in-ten say marijuana shouldn’t be legal for medical use and a high percentage said go ahead and legalize it for plain ol’ recreation too.

            While that may help people with chronic pain ease their hardships, let’s just hope that meth and heroin stay on the Schedule I list for eternity.

            It’s hard to believe that this rush to not only legalize but to make recreational drug use acceptable will not end badly. After so many years of fighting drugs how much study has there been into the long term effects of doing something that now remains illegal in most places. And where does this trend stop? Will people start pushing to legalize meth?

            And for the purely policy-minded, how do we assess and assign blame for the War on Drugs campaign that not only failed miserably to stop drugs but was waged on something that we are now legalizing?

            A lot of troubling questions. We would urge our state and national leaders to tread cautiously — throwing this door open brings consequences we may not be ready to deal with in terms of health, addiction treatment, not to mention law enforcement, business and the protection of youth.

            The idea that switching policies willy-nilly makes as little sense as the overwrought rhetoric of much of the anti-drug  cliches, let’s hope we can find a workable medium.

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