If you watch TV, you’ve likely seen the Trump approved advertisements regarding opiate use and just how far people will go to get more. From getting into intentional car wrecks to slamming limbs in doors, the horrific scare tactics are likely doing more harm to the movement to quell opiate abuse than good.
In a recent commentary by the Cato Institute, it is pointed out that, “while anti-drug media campaigns are a perennial favorite of politicians, little evidence suggests this advertising has any significant effect in reducing drug use.” In fact, numbers show that the failed National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which focused on stigmatizing cannabis use, had a reverse effect of that which was intended. It normalized marijuana use rather than demonizing it. As in, “See, I’m not the only one toking.”
Related Story: Medical Cannabis Can Now Replace Any Opioid-Based
The stakes are much higher with the opioid epidemic, however. Whereas there has never been a recorded death from cannabis use, opiate overdoses are plaguing our nation. Unfortunately, the country’s leadership doesn’t seem to know how to approach the problem. From threatening to give drug dealers the death penalty to reducing opiate prescriptions being written, the ideas and commercials coming out of the White House simply fall short and verge on detrimental.
As Sam Black Crow said in Neil Gaimon’s masterpiece American Gods, “I believe…there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.” Every system has its flaws and the death penalty for dealers certainly isn’t the answer, but neither is cutting down on prescriptions.
If someone is truly addicted to opiates, cutting off prescriptions is likely to drive them to the black market, where heroin is the star, and often laced with its extra potent opiate counterpart Fentanyl. Plus, there are many, many legitimate uses for opiates and the majority of those who have a prescription are not abusing their medicine, but managing chronic or severe pain and doing their best to maintain quality of life.
The horrifying images playing across America at the direction of the White House carry on failed traditions like the Reagan era “Just Say No” campaign and the aforementioned National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Perhaps Trump should read some of the promising studies that show cannabis as a pathway to health that veers away from opiate use and often quells a habit entirely. Offering medical marijuana in replacement of opiates or as a reduction technique is a much safer way to address the crisis and raise awareness than scare tactics ever will be.