CBS News: Marijuana No Longer Focus of Anti-Drug Campaigns

Marijuana No Longer Focus of Anti-Drug Campaigns

CBS News Examination Finds Prescription Drugs Are Seen as Bigger Threat Than Marijuana by Government, Non-Profit Groups

[Editor’s note: Hallelujah!]

By Elizabeth Sprague
Over the last several years, without many people realizing it, the U.S. government has changed the focus of its anti-drug efforts, deemphasizing marijuana in favor of prescription drugs.
A CBS News survey of government and nonprofit anti-drug groups has found a retreat from anti-marijuana campaigns over the past several years as prescription and over the counter drug abuse has grown amongst teens.
In fact, the Partnership for a Drug Free America, the nation’s largest creator of anti-drug messages, hasn’t produced a single anti-marijuana public service advertisement since 2005.
The change comes as a result of the decline in marijuana use amongst teens, and growing worry over the abuse of prescription drugs. Marijuana use has been declining for 10 years and past-month use is down 25 percent since 2001 according to the largest tracking study in the U.S., “Monitoring the Future” by the University of Michigan.
Meanwhile prescription drug abuse has held steady over the past five years according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with nearly one in five teens (19 percent) abusing prescription medications to get high.
“There is a new threat in town,” Robert Dennisoton of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said.
The concern about pills has been highlighted by a string of high profile deaths like that of Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, and possibly Michael Jackson — all tied to the abuse of legal prescription drugs.
In an effort to spread awareness about the dangers of the misuse of prescription drugs, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America even refers to young people today as “Generation Rx” in TV advertisements that point to the dangers of misuse of those drugs.
“For this generation, high prevalence of prescription drug abuse was kicking in… there was a dawning, and a number of us began to feel that we need to do something about it,” said Sean Clark, executive vice president with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy, the government’s drug policy wing, now dedicates all of its campaign resources directed at parents – some $14 million dollars since 2008 – to the abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs.
“The issue of prescription drug abuse, which the Office of National Drug Control Policy has been shouting about from the rooftops, it is a significant problem in this country,” National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said on “The Early Show” last week.
Advocates for marijuana legalization argue that the shift from anti-marijuana to anti-pill messages has come at least in large part because prescription and over the counter medicines are far more deadly than marijuana.
“While it is the most widely used illicit drug, it is much less dangerous than prescription drugs,” said Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that supports marijuana legalization.
“The government is talking about the dangers of acetaminophen – this stuff is given out like candy and can kill,” he said. “When you put it in that context, marijuana almost looks benign.”
The addictiveness of marijuana – or lack thereof – compared to other drugs is also cited by supporters.
“The bottom line is the Opiates and Stimulates are much more addictive than marijuana, those that try it are likely to return to them after first use.” said Mitch Earleywine, associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York. “Maybe 9 percent of marijuana users develop problems but 14-23 percent of prescription drug abusers end up saying can’t quit or report withdrawal when they want to stop.”
Advocates also point to recently-released data obtained by the Web site which indicates that prescription drugs are responsible for far more deaths than marijuana.
The report compared data on deaths due to marijuana with FDA-approved medications. It found that the approved drugs — which included anti-psychotics, Attention Deficit Disorder medications, painkillers and other prescription drugs — were suspected as the primary cause of 10,008 deaths and as a secondary cause in 1,679 more.
Marijuana, on the other hand, was the primary suspect in zero deaths and a suspected secondary factor in 279 deaths.
Another report recently issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicated that prescription drugs caused more deaths than illicit drugs – even including alcohol-related automobile accidents. Prescription drugs were the cause of more than 25 percent of drug related deaths in the state. Marijuana was not listed as a cause of death last year in Florida.
There are now more new abusers of prescription drugs each year than there are abusers of marijuana, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Department of Health and Human Services. About 2.15 million people started using prescription pain relievers to get high in 2007, while 2.09 million people started using marijuana that year.

This story was written by Elizabeth Sprague as part of a new special report on the evolving debate over marijuana legalization in the U.S. Click here for more of the series, Marijuana Nation: The New War Over Weed.

0 thoughts

  1. The boy who cried wolf gets illustrated here. The young people watching the anti-pot ads on TV blew them off. Now there is a REAL problem with prescription drugs but with the government’s credibility on anti-drug messages being at zero, who’s going to listen now?

  2. Much of Obama’s campaign support came from big pharma. They are not going to like this. Watch and you will see no legitimate change from the Obama admin in drug policy. Just feel good words with no action.

  3. To number 42 chuck a duk. I totally feel you brother. As a young man in the mid and late nineties i too felt an experimental urge. Sadly pot was expensive nd rare in the farming town i grew up in where as meth was cheap and abundant. Sadly i tried two harsh drugs before i tried herb. Hell you could buy a ball of meth for close to a sak of good reefer. I got hooked hard in ’98 and didnt get off till ’06. I was able to quit with help from a loving high school sweetheart turned wife and the sweet sweet ganja. You gotta get off the crap my man. It consumes you from the inside out. Weed and will can set you free. I been clean for two yrs. I only smoke now. Not even drink thats all we need man. I dont kno who you are bro but the General salutes you. Im pullin for you kik the gofast to te curb.

  4. OK I agree we need to legalize pot.
    BUT I’m worried about all this hype about Rx drugs now. I’m on narcotics for severe arthritic pain (ankylosing spondylitis) and some days can’t function without pain killers. Sometimes I can go days without one. But those bad days I have noting else.
    The other drugs I have been on have a warnings list and side effects longer then my arm. Things including lymphoma, cancers, lupus, MS severe infections and death. Sure the narcotics can take a toll and can be addictive, but they’re better then some other drugs I’ve been on (legally.)
    Until we get MM in our state and people like me can see how well it works long term we can’t be fighting against the pain killers that save our lives. I know quite a few who’d rather be dead then living with this disease without drugs to help them. Some others even morphine doesn’t help. But I’ve talked to MANY who say they don’t take narcotics anymore and only smoke pot.
    While I understand people abuse these drugs, we can’t label them as bad. Hell people abuse paint and glue too. They’re not bad, unless you use them in a “bad” way.
    But I do feel that if we could legalize pot it would turn quite a few away from Rx drugs, myself included if it works well for me.

  5. The people who go on these mass murder-suicide rampages are doing it because of the effects of anti-depression pills. Virginia Tech Cho? Check. The Columbine kid who launched his plot and kill lots of people? Check. There are others, I just don’t feel like researching them now, but I’ve read about them.

  6. It’s good to hear this. I’ve been saying this about prescription drugs for a while. I’m 21 and growing up many people were abusing percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen), vicodin (hydrocodone), alpazolam (xanax), ambien, valium, adderall, riddelin and a couple others starting about the age of 14, perhaps because many of us foolishly assumed they would be safer alternatives.
    However, while most of us outgrew this, oxycontin and roxy’s (15 and 30mg immediate release oxycodone) have come to town and taken over, after spreading like wildfire. This opiate is a lot worse, and many people I know have become addicted and have had health problems directly related to its abuse. Legalize MJ and concentrate on RX.
    PS. I’ve always said each decade had a common drug of use. The 60s were psychedelics, 70s was PCP and weed, 80s was coke/crack and 90s began RX.

  7. Keep up the good fight! > i love the progress being
    made, but i will forever be a cynic until the
    day comes when our own government stops the police
    state which wages a war against a minority portion of the population. 5% of the people in the united states are cannabis users. That makes us a minority. We are persecuted by our own government and the police state and hunted down and treated like FUCKING less than human and less than nothing. I thought we lived in the united states, apparently freedom is only for certain people. Land of the free home of the brave my ass.

  8. Well it’s good they finally recognize this threat. It is however only an illusion. Behind closed doors members of government would rather see our kids on pills then on pot- Bottom line. The government’s monopoly on perscription med’s created this problem to begin with, honestly fella’s, does it look like they really care? They will never legalize pot. Not until the end of the second American revolution. If only I was allowed to tell the public the truth about prohibition. To us it’s hell, to your leaders it’s profit. The more kids on pills, the more money they make. Im sorry but that’s the way it is, if you want change, I suggest you look towards revolt, because noone important is listening, they never have, they never will. Save yourselves.

  9. If you have some insight to what they do behind the closed doors there “logic” then how bout record it on a camera and post it on youtube from a cafe or something… kthx bye.

  10. Never take pills, they will destroy you. Smoke marijuana and be free from Babylon, only you can free yourself.
    (>^_^)><////W~~~~ excuse me while I light my spliff!!!! HAaaa haaa haaa haa!

  11. 58 Ty
    When the FDA can’t tell the difference between a food and a drug, we’re in deep shit. However they sure can tell the difference between green shit, and green backs. The “bottom line” is we’re talking about corruption…plain and simple.

  12. I have never been arrested but I have smoked or ingested cannabis since I was 15 and I am 51. I am clean for the next 4 years till I retire in 2013. I think the government is afraid to open pandoras box. I hope the laws change and then I will no longer be an outlaw. Vote for a change if they ever let us.

  13. 63 M Grider Government is affraid to open Pandora’s Box.
    Man that’s an understatement…extremely so! There’s a lot of shit they don’t want voters to find out. We haven’t given them enough time to fill the deep holes and cover them up. I mean caverns of shit, that might lead us to the “real control” culpret. Every time they get their ass cover in one place, they give in a little more. For instance…turning on the pharma-beasts. Patience…you’re really gonna need your meds
    in your older age.

  14. 63 M Grider P.S.
    PROHIBITION is the vaunt-Courier of the King. Defy his Majesty’s will and ye shall feel the blade of his sword…rather he face disequilibrium of power…when his Majesty’s true purpose is to gain power, and expand his empire. It’s an aristocratic value. The King only wants to hear what the King wants to hear, and that is…what the King has to say. God save the King.

  15. I was prescribed paxil as a teen for depression and ” being out of control ” . After just a few times taking it I had noticed major changes to me. I was alot more violent, wild, i became nocturnal I truly didnt care for much aside my dog Nathan. This was actually increasing all the stuff it was supposed to stop, years later the simple truth was I was a guineea pig for a new pharm. drug, I don’t recommend puttin early teens on marijuana but it wouldve been a far better choice. I’ve seen what happens to people on xannax, oxycottons and addarill it’s not a pretty sight at all.There are so many pharm drugs I see advertisements on tv if you’ve taken xxxxxx contact us you might be entitled o xxxxxx$ because this drug has been linked to so many deaths heart issues etc and theyre prescribed to us for things like the flu. Our pharm. companies are using us as gunieea pigs to see what the effects are with out telling us, in my humble opinnion I don’t know how anyone can trust theese people. I know I’ll get some hate for this but i think if someone has cancer the true solution if they have an estimated life expactancy of only a few months (1-24) is to keep them high as possible dont give them chemo and radiation as I’ve seen firsthand how people feel on theese treatments and I’ve seen how they feel if they smoke a joint the difference is insane they go from throwing up nonstop not able to eat losing all their body hair not being able to sleep and constantly being in pain, to being sable to hold down food and move around and being happy as can be. We need to stop testing a drug on unknowing people or ” wards of the state ” but I know this is just as likely to happen as dcfs putting kids they take from a home into a better home. With our economy I don’t see how we can afford not to legalize marijuana not only what it create jobs from people growing it maintaing it harvesting it then dispensing it into joints or straight bud form for your choice on how to use it. It would also save forests so the stems would be able to be harvested for clothing, paper and they could also produce enviroment friendly gasses/oils for automobiles, alchool companies could produce cannabis based liquors. Enviromentally this would also have huge benefitts as i said save trees stop some pollution produce more oxygen. Summary of what im saying is sae people from bad pharms, create jobs, create money save the enviroment, save us money, how could we go wrong with this choice?

  16. #41 Brain Doc Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 7:51 am
    Kudos to all here who are enlightened on this therapeutic herb. Keep it burning and take it from a Neurologist, this stuff is actually good for your brain’s health. Go figure that to the naysayers. Legalize it, and don’t criticize it, didn’t Peter tell you long ago?
    RE: In other words,
    (this I know),
    Cannabinoids promote neurogenesis… 😀
    and vice-versa… 😉

    There’ll be
    (and feeling tense…)

  17. i remember when i was in highschool partying we would smoke weed and maybe do a little coke. now 8 years later when i go home i see my classmates little brothers and sisters smoking heroin and oxycontin. what the fuck has happened here? something has gone terribly wrong.

  18. i was also a ritalin guinea pig. ive been to jail, beaten by the police, framed for posession, house arrested, evicted from my home. i spent 23 months in a brainwashing facility in central oregon. i have looked straight down .44 more than once. ive had my eye socket punched in and ive had my nose and face broken. ive addicted to cocaine, alcohol, pharmaceuticals of all shapes colors and sizesand i thought i was untouchable. and then, just like that highschool was over. time to grow up now…its a wonder i turned out the way i did.

  19. this makes me very happy.
    “It found that the approved drugs — which included anti-psychotics, Attention Deficit Disorder medications, painkillers and other prescription drugs — were suspected as the primary cause of 10,008 deaths and as a secondary cause in 1,679 more.
    Marijuana, on the other hand, was the primary suspect in zero deaths and a suspected secondary factor in 279 deaths.”
    uhhhh….duh. this is all you have to look at. not to mention how many deaths have been caused by alcohol.

  20. I strated noticing this they other night during a pro cops show called COPS
    The same ads which use to talk only about marijuana are now re-mixed – they re-did the ad whre they young gorl falls asleep at a so called party and her mean friend make a clown faced puppet out of her during her obviously drunken passed out self.
    but know the video which used to warn parents about marijuana now says keep yourself in control or something like that
    Prohibition was a stupid idea
    some prohibition era cars are still around – just like marijuana prohibition still is

  21. Daves kratom is really really really fresh. we have been looking my whole life for this…I hope they don’t ban it…

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