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Tim Myers: Legalizing narcotics better than alternatives

Posted: July 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.

On a typical early Sunday morning before church, I will spend about 30 to 60 minutes tromping through the paseos near our home in Northbridge for morning exercise — my one day off from the uniformly rigorous treadmill.

On several Sundays in a row, I have picked up three or four empty water bottles and an empty container of toilet-bowl cleaner near a concrete utility bunker to throw in the trash. I know enough to realize that three or four youths spend their Saturday night or early Sunday morning utilizing the toilet bowl cleaner as an inhalant.

I relate this story solely to show that I know a substance-abuse problem exists among the youth of Valencia and the greater Santa Clarita Valley, and do not place my head directly into the sand. I also enjoy knowledge, even when obtaining that knowledge will just induce fright, so I participated in a webcast sponsored by the Hart School District on July 14 with presentations by representatives of Medtox Inc., the testing laboratory executing Hart’s Comprehensive Alcohol and Drug Reduction and Education program.

I openly mocked the CADRE program, primarily a system of voluntary drug testing conducted by Medtox Inc., when originally instituted a few years ago after not one, but two, rejections by parental committees to apply testing for extracurricular activities.

The Hart District board and administration seemed stuck about two to three decades in the past when approaching the topic of unregulated drugs, resurrecting the antiquated terms of “narc” and “loaders,” which might actually date back to the 1950s, and settled for a fully voluntary program, utilizing grant money that would actually fund only a handful of tests per year.

Medtox took on the testing, and from the webcast and other material, I freely learned that their business model relies primarily on utilizing voluntary testing programs for introductions to concerned parents so they can sell more frequent (and expensive) testing outside the program.

This webcast sought to stir up more concern, but it left me strangely more convinced than ever that our society desperately needs to regulate the usage of narcotics for recreational purposes.

What caused me to reach this conclusion? Currently, people utilize narcotics for recreational purposes in an unregulated environment. Because the law makes such usage putatively illegal, absolute prohibition does not countenance strict regulation.

Contrast this situation to the usage of alcohol. Alcohol usage stands as one of the most heavily regulated activities in the United States of America. Pursuant to the United States Constitution, several states retain heavy power to regulate the usage of alcohol and license its usage and distribution. The states collect heavy taxes associated with this sale, and also provide heavy regulations concerning age of consumption and even hours of sale.

The new information in the webcast related to the usage of substances completely legal and unregulated, including salvia and other items marketed under the herbal remedy label, and even bath salts that produce hallucinations when snorted or smoked.  For the first time, the presenters probably introduced boomer and Gen X parents to the usage of Urban Dictionary so that they might decode Facebook traffic using slang to communicate regarding narcotic usage.  Anyone with a Paypal account can order these substances online and receive them via common carrier right in the midst of Awesometown.

The solution from Medtox? Change the laws to continue to prohibit these new narcotics in some sad game of “whack a mole,” and please pay Medtox to undertake more and more complex (read: “expensive”) testing to make sure the youthful denizens of the SCV don’t consume narcotics.

How much better to bring recreational narcotics into the realm of heavy state regulation? Academic research proves that the consumption of alcohol on any proportional measure declined historically (and continues to decline) after the repeal of prohibition.

Why? A license to dispense an item constitutes a valuable asset, and purveyors will knuckle under to nearly any regulation to protect that franchise, including the payment of heavy taxes, and a manufacturing process that produces items of uniform potency and quality.

In light of the webcast, I fail to see how any thinking person could not believe that a uniformly mild strain of marijuana sold in every convenience store to persons above the age of 21 would not stand preferable to people converting bath salts to a heavy drug, and utilizing toilet bowl cleaners in paseos.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. “Myers’ Musings” runs Sundays in The Signal.


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