Recently, the Des Moines Register reported the death of 48-year-old Whitney Houston. Years ago I was fortunate enough to attend one of her concerts. What a voice. What a talent. What a loss. She led a difficult life, another victim of drug addiction.
For years I’ve been struggling to work towards changing the current approach to addiction. But the dysfunction is so ingrained and distracting that it is difficult to make even minor dents. For example, last week a presentation was given at the Capitol on a new initiative from PEW, Results First, which is being implemented in Iowa. In its issue brief, PEW describes Results First as a “cutting-edge research model” to help policy makers across the country get better results with lower costs. It is a means to “identify ineffective programs to be eliminated”. But are there effective programs? It seems incredibly premature to start eliminating programs, when a highly successful long-term approach that encompasses diversity has yet to be developed. Well, when funding starts to dry up, the competition intensifies. The denial held by model makers puts addicts’ denial system to shame. There is never anything wrong with the model; it is the people implementing the model that are to blame.
The second time-consuming obstacle is the seemingly endless legislation being introduced targeting the supply-side of the drug problem. The bill to outlaw K-2 (a synthetic cannabis product) appeared to be dead last session, but magically resurrected as part of the Justice Appropriations Bill. During the subcommittee last year, it was pointed out that it is a waste of time to outlaw K-2 since all it would take is changing one molecule to create another legal drug. Low and behold, this is taking place. Another problem is that emergency room visits by young people taking K-2 has dramatically increased after it was outlawed. Go figure. Even today, young people are drawn to the forbidden fruit.
Dueling bills over marijuana are keeping us busy. There have been bills introduced in both chambers to legalize medical marijuana. Along with the Iowa House introducing more than one bill to move it off of Schedule II (addictive drugs with medical value), where it has sat for many years along with being on Schedule I – drugs with no medical value and highly addictive are to be found here.
Any discussions taking place to develop programs that would save Whitney Houston and other defeated drug addicts? Not a peep. Are we tired and frustrated? You bet. Currently all of our time and energy is spent fighting efforts to pass more futile laws to incarcerate people over drug issues, even though Iowa prisons remain dangerously full.
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