Recent reports have been issued showing that pot (marijuana) is one of the most popular abused drug among teenagers. In Denver, Colorado, the Denver Office of Drug Strategy found that the rise of marijuana use is due to the large influx of medical marijuana dispensaries and the diminishing stigma about smoking pot. This increase of teens smoking pot is partly because the national debate over medical use of marijuana can make the drug’s use seem safer to teenagers, researchers have found. In addition to marijuana, fewer teens also view prescription drugs and Ecstasy as dangerous, which often means more could use those drugs in the future.
However, smoking pot does have significant health impacts. Marijuana releases 400 chemicals when smoked and is especially harmful to the developing brain and body. Pot can be very detrimental to decision making and impacts rational thought.
Marijuana has surpassed cocaine as the major drug abuse and is the most common drug that is treated in rehab, excluding alcohol. Cocaine now ranks second behind marijuana in substance abuse related hospital discharges. Next comes heroin and methamphetamines are fourth.
In Minnesota, Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a measure that would have allowed medical marijuan to be legalized. However, the Minnesota Legislature resumes its work in February and may bring up medical marijuana issue again. The legislature should review the recent reports and think twice before allowing medical marijuana to be legalized.
In order to take control of prescription drug abuse, pharmacies in Minnesota are now required to report data on addictive drugs to the Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program. According to a Star Tribune article, by late March of 2010 doctors, dentists and pharmacists will be able to log onto the system to identify patients who may be getting too many habit forming medicines.
Minnesota is just one of 33 other states that are monitoring prescriptions for controlled substances such as amphetamines, barbiturates and other addictive painkillers as well as users of Vicodin, OxyContin and even some diet pills. The state database is funded by a $400,000 federal grant that is expected to track more than a million prescriptions a year. Legislation was passed in 2007 for this monitoring program.
Minnesota has more than 100,000 prescription drug abusers. The purpose of this database is to stop drug abusers and dealers from shopping around for prescription drugs. This won’t prevent drugstore burlaries or prevent kids from taking drugs from their parent’s bathroom or buying drugs off the streets. This will limit the amount of prescriptions that are written by physicians who think it’s a legitimate health care need and then have it end up becoming a street drug.
Drug dealers will do anything to sell their drugs. Take for instance the Obama Ecstasy pills that have hit the streets of a town in Texas.
Recently police in Palmview, Texas confiscating a batch of ecstasy pills with the face of President Obama stamped on them. The police also found black tar heroin, cocaine and marijuana when they did a traffic stop of a twenty-two year old. The drug dealer faces felony charges and a long time in jail. In the past, these criminals also offer drugs that look like vitamins for kids with cartoon characters such as Home Simpson and the Smurfs.
Palmview, Texas is a town near the Mexico border so you can say that these criminal drug dealers are definitely entrepreneurs. This makes the case that parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing.
West Africa has become a new hub for cocaine and human trafficking, oil, counterfeit medicines, and pirated music. According to an article in the Global Post drug cartels from South America and Europe have transformed Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea into a hot bed of criminal activity.
Earlier this year, Guinea-Bissau saw the double assassination of its president and army chief on the same and recently the murder of two leading politicians in the struggle for succession. In addition, in the slums of Guinea-Bissau prostitution is driving a new AIDS epidemic in the region.
Young people are helping to fuel the drug trade and becoming members of organized crime. The international community seems to be powerless to stop this bed of crime. However, by knowing that these types of crime are prevalent, the world needs to help this region and in return help the world get rid of organized crime, drug and human trafficking.
Many states have a law that says growing and selling marijuana for medical purposes is legal. Colorado is one of those states. Lately, Drug Enforcement Agents have found fields of marijuana growing in and around Colorado’s National Forest areas. It seems that mountain-grown marijuana has been a safe and productive place to grow the weed.
However, in Fairplay, Colorado, Park County Deputies found more than 1,000 pot plants growing near homes.
Fairplay is a small mountain town with modest subdivisions spread throughout the area. Because of a tip from neighbors, that there were suspicious activities going on at these homes, Deputies searched four homes in two subdivisions – Warm Springs and Foxtail Pines. As a result, police found pot plants as well as six pounds of packaged marijuana.
The only person arrested in this drug bust was Bryan Duffy on suspicion of illegal cultivation of marijuana. Duffy had moved to the area about a year ago and police found 176 plants growing in his house. The other homeowners had documentation under the state’s medical marijuana laws to grow pot. As a result, approximately 900 plants were left behind.
Unfortunately, the current Colorado state laws leave a lot of grey area when it comes to growing and distributing medical marijuana according to law enforcement. The law does not give a clear-cut guidance on this issue.
A $2 million per month meth importing and distribution drug ring was broken up in Colorado recently. Forty-one people were indicted in this case. Two hundred officers were involved in this one-day takedown.
The meth drug ring suspects face racketeering, conspiracy, possession and intent-to-distribute charges. The Castro brothers, Aaron and Alfonzo, are the alleged ringleaders. They moved the meth from Mexico into Arizona and then to Colorado where it was distributed immediately. They also were allegedly laundering the money through the purchase of expensive collector’s comic books. Undercover police confiscated 100 boxes of comics worth about $500,000 as part of their sting.
North Metro Drug Task Force sees this drug bust as reducing crimes in the area. When the supply is reduced, the users won’t be committing identity theft, robberies and burglaries to feed their habit.
According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division’ Drug Abuse Trends report, addiction treatment programs and emergency rooms in the Twin Cities increased in non-medical use of prescription narcotics and heroin. In 2008, 1,187 patients reported using opiates other than heroin. Mostly prescription narcotic analgesics or painkillers that are taken orally were the primary substance abuse treatment in addiction treatment programs.
This is almost a three-fold increase since 2002. As a result, hospital emergency rooms visits increased 67.8 percent from 2005 to 2007. Unfortunately, Minneapolis has the highest purity level of Mexican heroin with the lowest price per milligram of any city reporting which makes heroin use very dangerous. In 2008 there were 115 opiate-related deaths compared with 31 for cocaine and 14 for methamphetamines.
In addition, marijuana continues to account for more admissions to addiction treatment programs with 3,199 admissions or 16.6 percent of total admissions in 2008. MDMA, or “ecstasy” abuse grew from 204 in 2004 to 433 in 2008.
Abuse of prescription drugs, heroin and other strong narcotics taken for non-medical reasons even in a pill form has shown to be a growing trend. This type of addiction can be fatal.
A powerful hallucinogen salvia divinorum or also known as “magic mint” has been finding its way into illegal drug markets in the U.S. This plant has a rough, tongue shaped leaf and is found in Mexico’s Indian villages of Sierra Mazateca about 170 miles southeast of Mexico City along a mountain path. The drug has become an important cash crop for poor farmers.
Several U.S. states have restricted salvia sales and other states are trying to do the same. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is conducting a study to decide whether this drug should be banned nationwide and if it should be listed as a controlled substance. Ten other countries around the world have banned this substance.
The effect of this drug when smoked even one or two puffs produce an intense trip that lasts for 4-5 minutes. Long-term effects of this drug still needs to be researched but preliminary reports say that the drug does not appear to be addictive. However, in 2006 1.8 million Americans above the age of 12 reported that they tried “magic mint”. The drug is not considered a party drug, and it’s not a substitute for marijuana. It seems that most people try it once, put it in a drawer and never touch it again.
The Meth Project, a nonprofit organization started in the state of Montana, is using radio, TV, billboards, the Internet and grass roots community outreach to deliver the message to teens not to use Meth – “Not Even Once.” These ads deliver hard-core messages.
Targeted to teens, the ads are flashbacks of a young and vibrant teen thinking about using Meth but saying only one time. As the ad progresses, the teen turns into a sorry looking teen with sores and bruises all over their face and arms, smoking, snorting or shooting meth, stealing and selling their bodies. These ads are very impressive. In Montana where the Meth Project was originally launched, statistics show after two years of showing these ads, Meth use has declined by 72% as well as Meth-related crime has decreased by 62%.
Recently, Colorado has begun showing these ads. A recent survey showed that a third of Colorado young adults and 20% of teenagers say they have access to methamphetamine. 91% of teens disapprove taking the drug, but 30% say that they wouldn’t try to convince their friends not to take the drug. Perhaps seeing these ads will change their minds.
The Colorado campaign has gone through significant focus group testing. As a result, the ads are targeted to cut through all the clutter in young adult and teenagers’ lives and grab their attention immediately. The ads are compelling but accurate and are shown at least three times a week in order to reach 70 to 80 percent of teens.
Because of the close proximity to Mexico where “super labs” manufacture huge quantities of meth, Colorado is running these ads because of the disproportionate number of meth users in the intermountain area. Colorado ranks eighth in the country for per-capita meth use and the cost to the state is roughly $1.4 billion a year.
Meth is highly addictive amphetamine and is produced by using ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which is found in over-the-counter medicines. Other common household products are added to the manufacturing process including fertilizer, nail-polish remover, lye, drain cleaner and brake fluid. The drug unnaturally raises dopamine levels to more than 10 times the amount caused by life’s normal pleasures.
Despite the downturn in the US economy, Mexican drug cartels are still finding a large market for selling drugs. Consumers in the US provide a vast, recession proof and an unending market for Mexican gangs to sell their drugs that has locked them into a drug war that has killed more than 10,780 people since December 2006.
According to a recent Federal statistics report, 46 percent of Americans 12 and older or 114 million people have used illegal drugs at some point. Approximately, 8 percent of those or 20 million people are current users. They live in cities from coast to coast – herion addicts in big cities, “meth heads” in the Midwest and teens smoking marijuana throughout the country.
Marijuana is by far the number one drug used by 100 million Americans, including nearly half of high school seniors. More than 35 million Americans have used cocaine at some point and 34 million have taken LSD or other hallucinogens.
In 2007,14.2 million arrests were for drug abuse violations and accounted for 13 percent or more than 1.8 million arrests. Marijuana busts for mostly possession rather than sale, accounted for nearly half the drug arrests. In addition, drug offenders make up about 20 percent of the state prison population and more than half the federal prison population.
Rhode Island had the highest rate (11.2%) of people 12 and older who had used illegal drugs. North Dakota had the lowest rate, 5.7 percent. Vermont has the highest rate of marijuana usage; Utah the lowest. Five percent of 12th graders smoke marijuana daily. Nearly 51 percent of males 12 and older have tried illegal drugs at some point, compared with 42 percent of females.
These astonishing statistics come from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Usage and Health and the Monitoring The Future that was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Fighting drug use in the U.S. seems to be an unending story that Mexican cartels hope never ends. As long as people continue to demand drugs, cartels will be willing to sell them illegal drugs. Some critics say that making drugs legal would put the cartels out of business. There is no proof to this claim. People need to be educated about how harmful drug use is on their body and life. Until then law enforcement will continue to arrest illegal drug users.