According to a recent National Institutes of Health survey, United Press International reports, “Marijuana use and a hallucinogen among young adults in the United States reached an all-time high in 2021.”
According to the survey, 43% of young people admitted to using cannabis in the past year, while 8% said they had tried LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or other “hallucinogens.”
This is, believe it or not, good news. Both of these categories of “drugs” have a history of use since human history, with known medical and mental benefits, few negative side effects, and almost no relationship to violent behaviors.
None of these items should be used, possessed, sold, or grown/manufactured illegal in the first place, and growing familiarity with them continues to fuel growing opposition to the “war on drugs.”
All of them are, in three words, “safer than alcohol.”
Which, says the same survey, remains the most popular “drug”, with heavy drinking rebounding from low and “high intensity” drinking in 2020 steadily increasing.
This is the bad news.
If I knew that one of my kids (all now happily and safely after their teens) was going to a “party,” and that entertainment would be included, I’d rather they go in a bag of herbs or some mushroom caps than a can of beer or five bourbons. There is less potential for senseless fights, sexual assault, or driving while disabled.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I have nothing against alcohol, and I don’t think it should be illegal. I do use it, although these days I drink maybe six packs of beer and a few ounces of whiskey a year; It used to be… well, a little more than that.
Here is the need:
People have self-medicated and taken recreational potions of different things since there were humans.
They will continue to do so, even if politicians meet and order that it should not.
The choice we face is not between the community of Assassins and “drug-free America.” History has taught us that neither of these things will happen.
The choice is between a society in which we are free to choose what we eat, drink, smoke or otherwise eat – and take responsibility for what follows – or a society in which we eat, drink, smoke or otherwise take a “wrong” substance that could mean imprisonment whether we harm anyone else or not.
We are moving in the previous direction. It should continue to do so.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Liberal Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in North Central Florida.