The deadly consequences of marijuana prohibition

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Flickr.com/Simon Strandgaard.td>

It was a Tuesday morning in San Diego, just over a month ago on November 7th, when SDPD received reports of broken glass at a local business, with a possible burglary having had occurred overnight. Police investigators arriving on the scene quickly determined that the business in question was a medical marijuana dispensary, and the focus of their investigation quickly shifted from aiding possible burglary victims, to persecuting law abiding citizens and shuttering a legitimate business.
You see, San Diego was home to nearly 300 storefront medical marijuana dispensaries as recently as two years ago, but an intense crackdown by joint task forces, combining the might of local and federal authorities, led to nearly every single brick and mortar storefront being closed by the end of 2011.


In 2012, San Diego elected longtime Democratic Congressman and outspoken advocate for medical marijuana, Bob Filner, as the city’s mayor. Among his first moves as Mayor was to lift the ban on marijuana dispensaries, which led to a heated public standoff between he and the City Attorney. Shops began to slowly re-open, and optimism grew that perhaps the new Mayor was the real deal.
Unfortunately, news soon broke that the man couldn’t keep his hands to himself, and the subsequent “Filner Headlock” that his bombshell sexual harassment charges put the entire city in pretty much squashed any discussion for a new, and much needed, medical marijuana ordinance in America’s Finest City.
In the meantime, the President of the ultra-Conservative San Diego City Council, Todd Gloria, was named as interim-Mayor, and his first order of business was to reverse Filner’s protection of pot shops, demanding that they all be shut back down immediately.

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Bob Fllner.

So, back on November 7th, it was with the interim-Mayor’s full approval that local SDPD officers turned a simple burglary case over to the NTF (Narcotics Task Force), DEA, dual-deputized San Diego Sheriffs, Code Enforcement, and a locksmith to finish breaking in where the original thieves left off. Soon the sounds of more demolition and broken glass could be heard coming from inside the store as the agents seized medication, records, and more.
The head detective on the scene openly boasted that he had personally shut down 178 pot shops in San Diego, while his public relations people effectively steered local media away, telling them it was a simple broken window. Similarly, the two lawyers who represent the dispensary in question arrived on scene to assist their clients, but were forced by SDPD to leave, or face arrest for impeding an investigation.
Lost in the haste to persecute is the fact that the shop in question, VIP Buds, is following all of the laws that currently exist in the flawed legislation that California offers. They are sanctioned with the Secretary of State, they pay their taxes, they even make all attempts to abide by the presumed rules of what an ordinance might look like, if the city would ever pass one.
As safe access to natural, effective medicine like marijuana becomes more and more difficult to find, as is the case in places like San Diego, the effects of such prohibition can absolutely be measured elsewhere in the society.
Between 2008 and 2011 in San Diego, emergency room visits due to pain pill abuse shot up 61%. A survey of arrested juveniles shows that the number of them who admitted to abusing prescription medication had risen from 25% to 40% since 2008. They now outpace arrested adults, 38% of whom admit to using the drugs without a proper prescription.
Last year, 268 people in San Diego County alone died of prescription drug overdoses. That is a 22% increase just since 2008, and is right in line with trends being witnessed across the country.
New studies released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) paint a grim picture when it comes to pill poppers in America. Between 1999 and 2009, death rates due to pill overdoses skyrocketed 400% in rural areas, and over 300% in larger metro areas. Much like in San Diego, pill-induced emergency room visits have doubled in the past five years across the country to nearly a half a million each year, and somewhere around 12 million American adults and teens admit to using prescription pain meds for non-medical reasons.
Prescription drug related deaths now account for more deaths each year than motor vehicles do in 29 states and Washington D.C.
In the past decade, the sales of prescription medication (and the subsequent marketing campaigns that go along with those sales) have quadrupled nationwide. There were 15,500 killed in action in 2009 alone. The CDC estimates that number may have doubled by now to 100 deaths every day in this country from pill abuse. There’s your war, America.
For the record, as it bears repeating loud and clear: 5000 years of marijuana use by mankind, zero reported deaths by overdose.
Back in San Diego, ferociously anti-MMJ District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is patting her pet interim-Mayor on the head for a job well done on her quest to shut off all access to medical marijuana in the city.
She then pats herself on the back when she boasts that prosecutions of drug fraud cases are up 4% in the past five years in San Diego, and that she has overseen an 84% increase in felony cases where prescription drugs were involved.
Those may be good lines to pad her resume, but they do not bode well for society if such trends continue. More troubling, though, is the fact that she, and other prohibitionists like her, fail to see the correlation between the failing farce of a “War on Drugs”, and the actual silent killer that is prescription pill abuse. I doubt we’ll see paramilitary-style raids on Walgreen’s Pharmacies anytime soon.

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