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The U.S. War On Drugs Started 46 Years Ago This Week - Is It Time For A Ceasefire?

On June 17, 1971, Richard Nixon kicked off America’s War on Drugs. His stated goal was to make the drug trade less profitable, reduce the number of people addicted to drugs, to invest the resources necessary to interdict narcotics headed into the U.S and to punish drug offenders. The success of all but the last of these is debatable. 

The war on (illicit) drugs, which exacts particularly harsh punishment for minor marijuana offenses, has proven itself a miserable failure that actually contributes to the current drug abuse epidemic. Prescriptions for opioids have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years — a trend that has fueled, if not created a whole new heroin epidemic. So many Americans are on opioids, there's now a huge market for drugs to treat opioid-induced constipation (OIC). 

The use of medical marijuana has been severely impacted by the war on drugs. The Telegram reports on one troubling case in Massachusetts. Madie Cole, 8 years old, suffered up to 100 grand mal seizures a day before her successful treatment with a cannabis tincture. The story of Madie Cole’s treatment was one of trial and error. Most doctors are forbidden from recommending medical marijuana and it was up to her parents to create their own treatment protocol. 

The lack of dispensaries in Massachusetts also made it difficult for her parents to obtain the proper strains of cannabis and a two-to-three month supply costs approximately $1,000. If the federal government’s temporary cease fire on dispensaries is ended, obtaining the necessary treatment might prove impossible. 

Medical marijuana has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including pain management, and its safety profile exceeds opioid painkillers. In fact, experts agree it's virtually impossible to die from a marijuana overdose. One 2014 investigation found that in states where medical marijuana was legalized, deaths from opioid overdoses dropped by 25 percent. The shift was also very rapid, becoming evident within the first year of legalization.

Ironically, the U.S. federal government treats cannabis as it does heroin, LSD and ecstasy. They're all schedule 1 drugs — a highly addictive class of drugs said to have no medicinal value. Meanwhile, opioid drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine and Fentora are perfectly legal despite being molecularly very similar to heroin, with a high risk for addiction. 

Even the U.S. Justice Department admits that, along with heroin, prescription opiates are the most lethal substances available, yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved OxyContin for children as young as 11. Chronic pain is the primary reason for America's opioid problem, and shifting over to less dangerous forms of pain relief, such as medical marijuana, could potentially save thousands of lives each year.

Aside from medical marijuana, there are non-drug alternatives to pain relief. Research shows a combination of yoga and meditation is as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy, and can be more effective than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you relaxation techniques, with a focus on changing how you think about your pain. The Emotional Freedom Techniques is another drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. It borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system.
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