In the summer of 1971 I was commanding a tank platoon on the Hohenfels training ground in Germany. My platoon was pursuing an enemy platoon that was withdrawing. My eyes were fixed on the retreating platoon so that it did not get away; we were traveling cross-country at about 15 mph when suddenly my 11 year-old M60 tank fell into a big hole, coming to a dead stop. Once the armored vehicle stopped rocking and the shock wore off, my driver said, “Sorry sir, it was the excitement of the chase.” Fortunately, none of the four of us were seriously injured, but the tank had to be towed out and repaired. Investigation revealed that my driver had been stoned on marijuana. Even then we knew that marijuana affected memory, focus and concentration. At the time the really horrifying and deadly side effects of using cannabis were not widely recognized, and that is still largely the case because the media are in the bag for the marijuana legalization movement. My driver argued that he could not tolerate alcohol like the rest of the platoon, and he too had the right to get high. The matter was left to rest. Drug use in the Army was endemic and mutiny amongst draftees was everywhere, not just in Vietnam; it would take years before the military got a handle on the problem.
In truth my driver was right. Once you accept one opiate it is very hard to argue against another mind-altering substance that also destroys the lives of individuals and families. Essentially you are saying that my right to get high is more important than the societal cost, even where millions of families are affected. Once you open the candy store, the children will come in and will experiment until they find what they like; and many, if not most, will find a drug to which they are irresistibly drawn. About 7% of alcohol users drink daily. About 10% of those who receive prescription opiates from doctors become addicted to them. About 20% of marijuana users smoke the drug daily. Add cocaine, PCP, meth, heroin, etc. and what you have is an opiated society with all of its crushing social dysfunction and death– death from overdoses, psychotic murder, medical complications, and traffic accidents of land, sea and air. Is this really what we want? Just so we can get high?
We are told that Prohibition failed, and certainly it was repealed, but death due to alcohol, and alcoholism, decreased by about 50% even though doctors were allowed to prescribe alcohol (e.g. bottles of Seagrams whiskey from Canada) on a regular basis to their patients who could not get off the stuff. Is that a failure or a success? Ask the family members of an alcoholic. Prohibition “failed” for the exact same reason that the War on Drugs announced first in the 1960s has failed. Organized crime can only exist where there is massive corruption on the part of politicians, judges, lawyers and police, and America has the richest and most successful drug cartels in the world. In a society where money talks, cash is king! Our leaders have betrayed us for personal power, profit and prestige.
Next month we will review the science on “medical” marijuana.