Alaska, Oregon, & D.C. Jump On The Bandwagon…Florida Does Not
So…now you can legally use marijuana recreationally in Alaska, Oregon and D.C (although it is still considered a crime to sell pot in D.C.) Those states recently joined Washington and Colorado on the legalization bandwagon. Interestingly, in Florida, a bill that would have legalized medicalization of marijuana was not passed. Clearly, the debate about whether or not pot should be legal rages on and the results of legalization will soon be revealed.
Recent data has already shown that in states where marijuana is legal, deaths from opioid overdoses have been reduced.
Wow…Florida…It is very interesting that Florida, a state awash in opioid overdose deaths has that gall to not pass medical marijuana legalization. In 2007, Florida was identified as one of the states with the most serious proliferations of pain clinics, prescribing large quantities of painkillers with little medical justification to do so. In our program, we see many clients who tell us that they went to Florida in order to get painkillers because they are so easy to obtain there. In 2010, Florida was home to 98 out of the 100 physicians who dispensed the highest quantities of Oxycodone directly from their offices. Between 2003 – 2009, overdose deaths from opioids increased 61% in Florida. What is our Fear of Marijuana? Why are we willing to criminalize marijuana but look the other way when it comes to alcohol? Florida is the perfect example the drug policy is about moral posturing and not health.
Scott Bienenfeld, MD
Colorado and Washington now feature legitimate businesses that were, just a few short months ago, a criminal offense and a serious one at that. Now it seems that a wry sense of humor has brought the marijuana smoker out of their smoke-filled cars, houses, and dorm rooms. Is there an upside to this for recovering people? Sure there is! And with a whole bunch of potential that is as of yet unrealized. All recovery and drug policy is successful to the degree that we as a culture are honest about it.
Marijuana policy is inherently dishonest because it perpetuates the myth that criminality prevents use and potential impairment. New laws in some states are bringing all of that out of the closet, and with it the potential to be honest about intoxication. What the recovery community isn’t doing is demanding a “recovery tax” on all forms of intoxication. The amount of revenue that could be put to use for treatment and sustained recovery programming is unknown but it would be huge, certainly more than what is currently available. As a bonus, taxation is a barrier to accessibility, and does much more to reduce rates of use than “happy go lucky” fantasy campaigns like “just say no!”.
At Rebound Brooklyn, while do have a bottom line of profitability, we also have a bottom line of helping people, and this is why we have a deep commitment to doing “pro bono” work. By taxing intoxicants, we can fill the coffers for treatment, recovery and “second chance” legislation, and thereby reduce rates of use. Seems like a paradox (and maybe it is) but there is a 12 step slogan which goes: “surrender to win”. Maybe it’s time for a macro level surrender?
- Joe Schrank
- Scott Bienenfeld, M.D.