While speaking to a bewildered crowd in western Pennsylvania on Saturday, Donald Trump went on a rant about solving the opioid epidemic, by giving drug dealers the death penalty. Not for the first time, either. The situation typifies Trump’s inane and ridiculous thinking. The situation is as lethal as can be already.
If our government wants to solve the opioid epidemic, we think that’s great. We believe it can make some big changes, and we would like to give its members some advice. We feel qualified to do so, as drug laws have ravaged our entire generation. The opioid epidemic has hit millennials and their baby boomer parents the hardest.
It’s high time for America to have this conversation.
Millennial Democrats talked to over a hundred millennial drug addicts to do this piece. Based on their stories, we have come to the following conclusions.
First off, let us have our weed. Quit locking people up for weed. Quit administering urine tests for weed. It’s the legal system that is destroying lives because of cannabis, not cannabis destroying lives.
Many people rely on marijuana, to help them get through their daily lives with greater efficiency and happiness in their work.
Cannabis is a great cure for boredom. It makes all kinds of things interesting. Rather than Ritalin or amphetamine, many people our age have found it helpful for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder, a disease they said we had. If it wasn’t for the unfair legal restrictions people in the industry face, studies proving its efficacy would have filled up many journals long ago.
In short, cannabis is not the problem; just the opposite. It’s been a help to the human race for thousands of years.
The problem comes in when the person and his cannabis first come into contact with the law.
Picture this: One day, you’re a bright-eyed college kid, getting straight A’s and looking forward to what to all appearances will be a very bright future. You’ve got a progressive set of values and a live-and-let-live sort of attitude, and so you can be counted on to reliably vote Democratic.
The next day, you’re in a car that gets pulled over, and you get searched and your weed is found.
Next thing you know, you’re in jail. Around killers and child molesters, bank robbers and woman beaters like Corey Lewandowski. Every minute is a torture, your self-respect is shattered forever, and you never stop feeling like a second-class citizen again- nor will society ever let you.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that this state of affairs came about for a reason. It’s a very easy way for the right to hamstring the left.
The War on Drugs, although commonly associated with Ronald and Nancy Reagan, was actually Richard Nixon’s creation. It was developed and refined as a strategy to hamstring the lives of voters who Nixon saw as reliably Democratic, according to White House tapes.
Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said, “We had two enemies- the antiwar left, and the blacks. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs themselves? Of course we did.”
Returning to our scenario, after some amount of time your sentence in jail is over, and they eventually let you out. Having committed the unthinkable outrage of destroying your life over a harmless and helpful plant, they now proceed to tell you that this was done for your own good and that in fact you owe them money, to cover the costs of your own correction and your ongoing criminal supervision, known generally as probation or parole.
Who’s the criminal, in this scenario? The man, or the State?
This bill will include the cost of your urinalysis.
Thank God, you think. I’m finally out. Time to smoke a fat one, so you do. The pungent cloud of smoke in the room combined with some good friends and music almost makes it possible for you to forget, for a second, the manner in which they defiled you.
The next day, you follow the instructions given to you at the county jail, and you go to see your parole officer. Upon arrival, they give you a strange-looking cup and tell you to pee in it.
Your pee is then sent off to a laboratory somewhere, where a demon in a lab coat will examine it using tungsten-filament lights to see what chemicals are floating around in your fluids.
If the byproducts of cannabis alkaloids are found there, you will receive an unpleasant phone call from your P.O. and you’ll be called back in to discuss it.
It’s not until you get there that you realize what is really going on. It wasn’t just that one time you had to go to jail for. You can’t just resolve not to have weed on you anymore.
They actually expect you not to smoke it. Period. And if you ever do smoke weed again, back to jail you go.
Leaving their office, your world in a shambles, you take a moment to reflect. You have no idea what you’re going to do. You’ve been smoking weed every day for years. It’s part of who you are. You think of trying to get through your daily life with nothing, and you shudder deep to your core.
It is at this moment that you start to look around for substitutes. Soon, they find that the drugs that get you closest and leave your system the fastest, are opioids.
There seems to be something about Vicodin. Everybody started out on Vicodin. Oxys are too strong, at first, and of course the very last thing on your mind is doing heroin.
You’ve been around for long enough to know that the gateway drug theory is a lot of crap. You’d always vowed to prove it with your own life. So although the big H is too hardcore for you, something like a Tylenol 3 or a Vicodin seems just right.
But now, you’re finding out something else unpleasant. Unlike weed, which has essentially the same effect every time, you find out very quickly that the Vicodin you took yesterday worked a lot better than the one you took today. So you take two, and the next day three, and then you get yet another nasty surprise.
Unlike weed, which you could smoke or not smoke according to how you were feeling and what you had going on, you find out pretty quick that your new friend insists that you use him according to a schedule, or he’ll make you sick. Very sick.
One day you wake up and you realize that Vicodin no longer works at all. But your doctor has the answer. OxyContin. You’ve been artificially forced down the road to the gateway drug theory.
Furthermore, when you tell this to the doctor, he takes them away from you and labels you an addict. He has no choice since if you mess yourself up on them past a certain point, HE can go to prison.
All but beside yourself, you leave his office shaking your head. You have no idea what you’re going to do now. You think of taking your own life. You know that many do commit suicide rather than face the prospect of more unbearable pain and sickness.
You decide to get some coffee at the corner store. The blunt wraps on the counter remind you of the good old days before the government decided you were sick and needed curing. When you step back outside and hit the corner, someone is standing there. He looks at you knowingly, and asks you, with compassion in his eyes, “You sick, man?”
In the palm of his hand are the corners of baggies, with tiny amounts of heroin resting in each.
After a while, you get off probation or parole, or you get so many dirty UA’s that you’re sent back to prison, and you’re set loose from there, but it’s never the same again. You are strung out, and your head is messed up. The brightness of your eyes is gone, and there is nothing that anyone can do to put it back there.
The days when you could just smoke weed to get by are gone. Distant as the dinosaurs. You give the just-weed diet a shot for a little while, but by this point, most of the guys you’d smoked blunts with are all gone too, either in the system like you are or diverted back into society. There’s no one left to smoke with. Not anymore.
Thankful to be out, you relax at home and prepare a well-deserved fix, but you forget that your tolerance has reset itself after all that time behind bars.
As soon as you hit that plunger, that drug hits you, hard. You think to yourself, I might be in trouble here, but you feel so good you just sort of forget to breathe. You have overdosed and you are drifting quickly into unconsciousness. Your mother sees your lips turning blue on the toilet and tries to revive you, but by the time the ambulance comes, it’s already too late.
The bright-eyed college student you were will never think anything again.
The drugs of the future are here today. Dreaded heroin is no longer the king of the opioid pyramid. Fentanyl is eighty times more potent than morphine, milligram for milligram. Recently an analogue drug called Carfentanyl has been making the rounds.
Carfentanyl is ten thousand times as strong as morphine.
A kilogram of it was seized coming across the border from Canada last year. It was more than enough to overdose the entire population of the United States.
More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War — the result of the US’s opioid epidemic.
Recently Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the company who originally patented that miracle of a wonder drug OxyContin, closed a number of its Oxy factories and stopped instructing doctors to push them on people.
It’s twenty years too late for that. Even fifteen years ago, it was already too late. Heroin use in America reached an all-time high in 2003 and has steadily gotten worse ever since. By 2014 it had tripled.
By this point, the opioid epidemic is like a wildfire, spreading across the land, completely out of control. It will burn and burn until its fuel is gone, and the people in charge do not really understand this. They do not understand that what is fueling this epidemic is not the supply of the drugs, but the demand for them.
The demand for drugs is caused by pain. Most of us are feeling too much of it so that a very few might feel a bit less.
American income inequality has skyrocketed over the last 30 years, as costs have risen while wages have stagnated for the middle- and lower classes.
Those who perceive all this taking place and refuse to participate are treated as criminals and pariahs and sent down the road of our John Doe Millennial. In 2016 there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug law violations.
Until Americans cease to be treated like cattle by their billionaire neighbors anymore, cattle who own nothing and are entitled to nothing, there is always going to be a lot of pain. Where there is pain, there will be people seeking help for pain. The only way to remove that pain is to lighten the burdens of the people.
In order for that to happen, power must be wrested from the parasites and given to those who are motivated by that merciful goal. There is only one hope for a cure for the opioid epidemic, and it doesn’t involve the death penalty.