Tom Traynor:The drug dilemma

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I am a licensed psychologist and certified substance abuse counselor. It has been part of my occupation to be "up on" issues about drugs, such as responsible drug use, drug abuse and drug dependence.

I have been on record for a number of years favoring a significant change of America's drug laws, shifting from prohibition/possession laws, which currently dominate, to responsibility laws, which, in my opinion, have been socially tested, rational, and will eventually lead to a resolution of the two-headed problem we now face: the irresponsible drug user on one hand, and the unnecessary prosecution of responsible users on the other. In my opinion, both extremes of the current drug problem argument are illogical and irrational. From my position, drug legalization or use which lacks strict social sanctions is unacceptable; equally, prosecution of the responsible user is unacceptable. Among many, one very clear and well thought out treatise on changing the drug laws can be found in "How to Legalize Drugs" edited by Jefferson Fish, 1998, Jason Aronson Inc.

Here's the dilemma: While many people in various professions favor significant changes in the drug laws as currently practiced, our society has come no where near the acceptance or practice of the conditions laid out for responsible use of drugs, as outlined in chapter 19: "Principles and Proposals for Managing the Drug Problem."

Until those of us who favor changes in the drug laws have laid out a rational proposal for responsible use (e.g. education, personal licensing, social restrictions, legal consequences for violations) and the strict and swift censure of irresponsible use (loss of privilege, treatment, incarceration) it makes no sense to legalize the use of any psychoactive substance, marijuana included. Until those who intend to use drugs are held to a formal standard of responsibility (as we have done with public cigarette smoking), no change in the laws is called for or rational. And this comes from a guy who favors a move toward more responsibility-based drug laws.

Marijuana shouldn't get favored status. Give all the arguments you want; I can cite research for the responsible and irresponsible use of any drug or anything, for that matter. Some drugs are easier to abuse, some tougher, but lets' not play favorites.

Yes, we should swiftly move to decrease the prosecution of responsible behavior, but lets' not do it willy nilly, without a rational plan that defines responsible use. That is as irresponsible as our current drug laws. I suggest we begin with a public forum in which all positions are considered, and work toward a consensus of opinion. Then, we consider changing the laws.

At this point, the "government" is not responsive to alternative positions, and many drug users hold themselves socially accountable to nothing regarding their use.

Tom Traynor

Steamboat Springs

Comments

dogd 8 years, 1 month ago

Great. A drug counselor who declares that such a thing as "responsible use" of pot is possible. Not true and not a very bright statement. Vote NO on 44. Period.

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techdubb12 8 years, 1 month ago

Could either of you offer examples as to why responsible pot use is not possible?

Should an adult's use of marijuana as a celebratory or relaxation vice once or twice a month be considered irresponsible? Should this same adult, if drinking alcohol once or twice monthly be sent to rehab and labeled an alcoholic? Furthermore, who are we to decide which responsible adult should be jailed for their personal choice of relaxation?

The blatant assumption that ANY pot use should be compared to alcoholism is simply unfair. The mere fact that marijuana is not addictive, in the physical sense, should be more than enough proof of this.

I too am not naive enough to believe that pot is harmless. But in a society that offers one highly addictive drug (tobacco) and another potentially addictive drug (alcohol), doesn't it seem a bit harsh to use the phrase "Pot is extremely destructive", within any logical reasoning? That doesn't seem to harm two multibillion-dollar industries in this country.

As far as Amendment 44 being dangerous to our children, the first things that come to mind are a cartoon camel and several businesses per year being caught serving under age children in this very community.

And I'll never be tired of pointing out the blatant parallel between our government/big tabacco making money on cancer facilitating products and organized crime making money on the production and sale of pot.

Should marijuana be legal simply because two other destructive drugs are? No. But, should pot users be jailed and fined for choosing to use it?

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years, 1 month ago

Dogd- Waaaayyy back in 1991, Dr. Traynor was my alcohol class teacher when I had to attend for my DUI. While he said there is not such thing as "responsible use," he did also clarify that there is no proof that marijuana is an addictive drug. His term? "You're not experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when you run out...you're just bummed you're out of pot."

I personally don't care if it's legalized or not. I do think that if alcohol, which is an addictive drug due to causing tolerance and withdrawal, is legal then marijuana should be legal. Don't care how many facts support whatever: alcohol is just as, if not more destructive than marijuana, pound for pound. (no pun intended)

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techdubb12 8 years, 1 month ago

Though you are correct in saying that THC is stored in fatty tissues, you are assuming that these THC metabolites are the same as those absorbed by blood immediately after being consumed.

"The THC molecule, and related compounds, are usually detectable in drug tests for up to approximately one month after using cannabis (see drug test). This detection is possible because non-psychoactive THC metabolites are stored for long periods of time in fat cells, and THC has an extremely low water solubility. It is this slow and steady removal from the body that is linked with usually mild or nonexistent withdrawal symptoms after single or occasional use of the drug." [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_i... ]

Please note the term "non-psychoactive THC metabolites". Once they have cycled through the body several times, they are no longer psychoactive. Furthermore, since this is the case, the user does experience withdrawal symptoms upon stopping "cold turkey".

"Although not as severe as that for alcohol, heroin, or cocaine dependence, marijuana withdrawal is usually characterized by insomnia, restlessness, loss of appetite, irritability, anger, increased muscle activity (jerkiness), and aggression after sudden cessation of chronic use as a result of physiological tolerance." [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_i... ]

As far as the term "responsibility" goes, let's consider an example. An individual becomes "intoxicated" on marijuana on a Saturday afternoon, in their own home, while all responsibilities are taken care of and no one (beyond the individual) is being harmed in any way. How might this classify as being "irresponsible".

This being said, the statement: ":there is no such thing as 'responsible' pot use." is unfounded and illogical. Unless of course you're making up your own definition for the word "responsible".

If you don't agree with the use of marijuana, that is perfectly fine. I respect your opinion. However, please respect the opinion of others on this matter.

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techdubb12 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad we've moved on to a more logical and less emotional debate. It is too bad you've never met a responsible marijuana user. They're much like normal people. In fact, they are normal people.

Luckily for them, until you've met every pot smoker, the possibility for responsible marijuana use exists. This is something to heavily consider.

The mere fact that the non-psychoactive THC molecules exists means there is less psychoactive THC molecules. It would then stand to reason that the less psychoactive THC molecules, the less affect on the body, thus, the reference to half-life. Meaning that those responsible pot users you have yet to meet are not perpetually stoned.

As far as driving is concerned, consider the following:

1) "Intoxication with cannabis leads to a slight impairment of psychomotor : function. : [However,] the impairment in driving skills does not appear to be severe, even immediately after taking cannabis, when subjects are tested in a driving simulator. This may be because people intoxicated by cannabis appear to compensate for their impairment by taking fewer risks and driving more slowly, whereas alcohol tends to encourage people to take great risks and drive more aggressively." [UK House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. 1998. Ninth Report. London: United Kingdom. Chapter 4: Section 4.7.]

2) "Blood samples from 894 patients presenting to two Emergency Departments for treatment of motor vehicle injur[ies] : were tested for alcohol and other drugs.

: Based on alcohol and drug testing of the full range of patients : alcohol is clearly the major drug associated with serious crashes and greater injury. Patients testing positive for illicit drugs (marijuana, opiates, and cocaine), in the absence of alcohol, were in crashes very similar to those of patients with neither alcohol nor drugs. When other relevant variables were considered, these drugs were not associated with more severe crashes or greater injury." [P. Waller et al. 1997. Crash characteristics and injuries of victims impaired by alcohol versus illicit drugs. Accident Analysis and Prevention 29: 817-827.]

I could go on for a while; however, you get the point. Let's keep this forum to a minimal use of generalizations and blanket statements.

Thankfully our country's laws are not solely based on your personal scope of marijuana users and/or your opinion as to what constitutes responsibility. This, ultimately, would be unfair.

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techdubb12 8 years, 1 month ago

"Which part of funding murderous drug gangs constitutes "responsible" behavior?"

I believe it's the same part that makes purchasing cigarettes "responsible" in this society. If it's "murderous drug gangs" you're looking for, look no further than big tobacco. And golly, our government can tax their product!! Is this what makes it "responsible"?

As far as your quoting from a personal blog, I'll restrain from explaining why using them, as citation, is less than convincing.

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techdubb12 8 years, 1 month ago

It was never said that I didn't find the blog interesting or entertaining. In fact, I said I didn't find it convincing. Usually, when citations are used, it's to back up factual information. Furthermore, the emotion found in your post is detracting from very some good points you've made, though still debatable.

As far as making references to "gangs randomly gunning down 2 year old children in the streets", your assertion is at best "irresponsibly" sensational. If most money yielded from marijuana sales is put towards bullets whom target toddlers, how might you explain the lack of violence here in town? Where did the guns used come from? Though sensational statements are a good way to draw attention, they have no place in logical and founded debate.

The fact that organized crime benefits from drug sales sits partially on the shoulders of our government. The Big G can detect nuclear detonation in N. Korea within minutes, but some how cannot seal its borders to drug traffic. Weird.

We've clearly deviated from point. Alcohol and tobacco are both potentially dangerous drugs, however they are legal. The government has deemed its citizens intelligent enough to make decisions (over the age of 21/18) in regards to these substances. Marijuana is also a potentially dangerous drug. At no time has it been stated that it is a safe and/or harmless drug. Those who choose to use it are merely looking for the opportunity to do so legally, without jail time, fines or legal issue.

It is obvious that neither party will budge on this topic. I sincerely thank you for being the voice of anti-pot sentiments. Without differing opinions, this country would be horribly boring and lack any advances in thought.

For clarification, this is a forum, not a personal blog. I enjoy active debate and sharing of different ideas. However, simply reading a blog written by someone with a differing opinion can be too much to bear.

If you are interested in starting a personal blog, the Pilot & Today website offers you their services here: http://www2.steamboatpilot.com/weblogs/

I cannot promise that I'd read it, however, it's a great way to make your thoughts known on a decently large platform.

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georgie112233 8 years, 1 month ago

Well said sbvor. The justification of social irresponsibility on the basis of shared blame is all too rampant in the world today. Not being entirely at fault or failing to recognize indirect consequences (or just ignoring them) is no excuse for engaging in behavior that has the potential to cascade into the death of a child. Nevermind the government's role, supporting drug gangs is supporting violence.

The problem with the drug war today is that congress does not have the will to commit more resources and enforce harsher penalties on drug users and pushers. As a result potheads (whether they've purchased their dope from Mexico or grown it at home) still feel like they can choose what they want to put into their body. They don't care about anything but getting high. Who cares if they're not a threat on the road, who cares if they're still capable of managing their professional and personal lives in a manner that is otherwise acceptable, who cares if they bring love and joy to the people around them. If johny law walks by their front window and sees a plant in the corner of the living room he should have the authority to bust in, warrantless, beat the living hell out of them and incarcerate them as the felons they are. Really, we should require everyone to get drug tested on a daily basis, or put everyone under surveillance. We could even monitor their eating habits. I'm quite positive there's a lot of irresponsible chocolate eating going on in the world. Of course, we need to target the violence breeders too. Guess we better go after Ruger, Hali Burton, and all the government contractors. Come to think of it, I guess we better go after the government, too. Leave no stone unturned, right ? or maybe I have it wrong, maybe it's leave no turn unstoned...

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Hadleyburg_Press 8 years, 1 month ago

sbvor, Welcome back PilotWatch aka Average Joe aka sbvor (violator of reasoning?) How nice it is to see that you continue to mentally falter when the civilized try to engage you in a rational dialogue. Tisk, tisk here is a point to keep you from accusing me of adhominem antics; if the drugs are coming thru Mexico and causing the blood to flow then what about the idea of a home grow? Oh that's right, your intellectual prisim allows no light (other than that which cancels out rainbows?) Regardless, I shall pilfer a better thought than mine by repeating Techdubb, "Without differing opinions, this country would be horribly boring and lack any advances in thought" not to mention a tyranny. Sbvor I must ask you, has the war on drugs been successful and if so can you quantify that assertion? If not, then can you entertain a better approach? What would be your solution? Salutations, A slave new world citizen

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georgie112233 8 years, 1 month ago

sbvor, The interim you refer to has now lasted 69 years (which I think would be adequate time to produce a distribution solution). Amendment 44 asks voters, do you think it's right to prosecute and incarcerate our citizens on the sole basis of their decision to possess marijuana? I don't see how a society that prides itself on freedom can agree with that kind of treatment.

You indicate a willingness to mandate that other members of society behave according to your personal "preference". It is clear you have made a decision to personally condemn marijuana users. Remember your comment,

"The typical substance abuser is a self-preoccupied, lacking in empathy narcissist who has no awareness at all of the harm they do not only to themselves, not only to their friends, family, co-workers and community but the entire society at large. Oh, puleeeeeez pardon my oh so politically incorrect, but entirely accurate "generalization"!"

I know you use the term substance abuser lightly since you already stated that ALL marijuana users are substance abusers. Well since you have judged - I'm guessing you either 1) are a weak-minded individual incapable of drawing your own conclusions and, thus, have the perception sold by reefer madness; 2) are one of those insecure people who builds themselves up by condemning the "inferior" lifestyles of others; 3) were really hurt by a pot-smoker(s) in the past and are just really bitter because you never came to terms with it (i.e. you find it easier to blame whatever happened on pot); or 4) are actually one of the narcicists you seem to hate, and believe, in your arrogance, that your self-percieved enlightenment entitles you to make personal choices for grown adults.

The organized crime debate is neither here nor there. The pursuit of ideal legislation is noble but not practical. I think that's one of the reasons our system has flexibility. There are other policies pertinent to the drug war and organized crime which make CO's amendment 44 pale in significance. Your contentions are so littered with hypocracy, misled conclusions, and faulty generalizations that I simply don't have time to engage in a point by point debate. By the way, where did you get that little tidbit about how the VAST majority of people who have consumed alcohol have not EVER been intoxicated? Hadleyburg is right, from now on ye shall be referred to as Vor, Violator of reason.

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