Along with rights come responsibilities

It’s been said that everyone has rights but nobody has responsibilities any more. The growing hotbed regarding the legalization of marijuana just got hotter. News reports advise that marijuana users see no problem with using and driving. How do you feel about driving our highways, minding your own business, and not knowing if the drivers around you and coming toward you might be driving under the influence of marijuana?

The Colorado State Patrol, say published reports in that state, began to keep track of marijuana-impaired drivers in January, as retail sales of the substance began. Out of 61 drivers under the influence of any drugs and alcohol, 31 were marijuana-impaired. They say that marijuana-impaired drivers are dangerous, exactly the same as someone driving under the influence of alcohol.

In Washington state where the marijuana laws are different, 1,300 drivers tested positive for marijuana in 2013, up 25 percent over 2012. Reports say 720 of them were at levels high enough for automatic drugged driving convictions.

Our neighbors to the north are waging the same war. Partnership for a Drug Free Canada commissioned a national study that states 25 percent of parents of teenagers do not consider driving while high on cannabis to be as bad as drinking and driving. Some drivers think using marijuana makes them better drivers because they can focus their attention better. But those in the know are saying, “Impaired is impaired” regardless of whether it is alcohol, drugsor marijuana.

Join Together (JT), a program of Drug, reports that Americans’ use of cocaine has dropped, but marijuana use is on the rise. The RAND Policy Research Center estimated Americans spent $100 billion annually on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Americans spent much more on cocaine than on marijuana, but by 2010, that reversed. (The report does not cover the recent increases in heroin use or the effects of laws in Colorado and Washington state that have legalized recreational use of marijuana, the source reported.)

“Our analysis shows that Americans likely spent more than one trillion dollars on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010,” lead research Beau Kilmer said in a news release. He noted the increase in marijuana use appears to be related to a rise in the number of people who said they use the drug every day or almost every day.

The federal government recently stopped funding for ADAM (Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program) so it will be much more difficult to track the abuse of these drugs in the future, JT said.

In California, the DEA is cracking down on a potent marijuana product called “wax” which is legal and popular in Colorado, JT reported. Wax is a distillation of marijuana said to be so potent that a single hit will keep a person high for more than a day. A person making wax uses flammable substance butane to strip out the THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a high. An anonymous, undercover agent informed ABC Nightline, “There is no weed out there that possesses the punching power that the wax does. And it’s like smoking 20 joints of the best grade of weed that you have into one hit of the wax.” It can cause the onset of psychosis and even brain damage from the exposure to that high concentration of THC, officials in San Diego said. They fear they won’t get control of wax before it spreads

On the treatment side of things, JT also advises that “Substance abuse treatment providers say patients are having problems getting their care covered, even though such treatment is now considered an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act.

“The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act requires larger employer-based insurance plans to cover psychiatric illnesses and substance use disorders in the same way they do illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.” Insurance companies, however, are becoming more strict about what they will allow.

Think about it before you take what could be a fatal step.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, but United Way of Northern Columbiana County.