The Russ Belville Show
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A special guest post from a reader:

Co-founder of the new advocacy group SAM, (Smarter Approach to Marijuana) Patrick J. Kennedy, a former congressman and self-admitted alcohol and oxycodone addict recommends: “that possession or use of a small amount of marijuana should be a civil offense subject to a mandatory health screening and marijuana-education program. Referrals to treatment and/or social-support services should be made if needed. The individual could even be monitored for 6-12 months in a probation program designed to prevent further drug use.” But is this forced treatment for marijuana warranted?

In Psychology Today’s  “Is Marijuana Addictive?” marijuana was compared to other substances. Marijuana does not pose the same risks of dependence. It is estimated that 32% of tobacco users will become addicted, 23% of heroin users, 17% of cocaine users, 15% of alcohol users, yet only 9-10% of regular marijuana users. Cocaine and heroin are more physically harmful and nicotine is much more addictive. What is the incentive for this push for treatment centers for marijuana use when Mr. Kennedy knows from available evidence and personal experience that alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs are far more harmful? Based on my own personal experience, I think I have at least part of the answer.

About a year ago, I was put through some marijuana re-education of my own when I had to attend court ordered Deferred Entry of Judgment classes. Every Wednesday night for 18 weeks I met with a health department leader and other unfortunate drug war casualties. The class would start off with roll call and paying a weekly fee. We would watch a video on addiction or the teacher would read some course work to us. Then he would give us some questions that we were required to answer. Most of them were things like “how does your addiction affect your daily life”….

At first I quietly just didn’t answer most of the questions or I just wrote in, “I’m not addicted. I use cannabis as a medicine. It helps me control my migraines.” The teacher started singling me out to read my answers thinking that I would buckle from public shame.

It’s important to realize that the attendees in the Deferred Entry of Judgment classes were given a free pass from the court and they are scared of going to jail. Defendants that are offered a DEJ have no prior record or they have stayed out of trouble for over 5 years and have no violent crime history. A DEJ means that after you complete the program, you can say that you were never arrested. It’s a way to run a LOT of drug related cases quickly through the judicial system using fear.

But I didn’t buckle when I was presented with quiz after quiz that asked me to admit to addiction. I stood up for myself. Without cannabis, my life would again center around depilating migraines which honestly were driving me toward suicide.

After I started speaking up, I was approached by almost everyone in the class. They all had heartbreaking stories and also felt like they were being herded through a BS program, but you do what you have to do and so they answered the questions as if they believed they were addicted.

In the end, the instructor graduated me early to get rid of me and didn’t even pee test me because he knew it would come up dirty.  He was aware of my court documents stating that I could not only smoke cannabis but grow it.

Under the guise of “treatment”, what they were doing was working on creating statistics that would support a HUGE money grab for more services and create a story of crisis that doesn’t really exist!

Published in CNN Money Private equity’s rehab roll-up In February 2006, Bain Capital (yes, the company that clean-living Mitt Romney used to run) purchased an outfit called CRC Health Group for $723 million and proceeded to go on a shopping spree, snapping up nearly 20 new treatment facilities over the next two years. The company took a breather during the financial crisis, but in 2011 resumed its buying binge with the purchase of some smaller treatment centers.

Rehab, it turns out, is a pretty good business. Is rehab roll-up-able? In the most basic sense, the answer is yes.

But are these treatment centers working to end addiction or is it all about the profit margin?

All treatment programs are not created the same. “CRC uses a cookie-cutter approach,” says Dr. Howard C. Samuels, an addiction specialist and licensed practitioner based in Hollywood. “It’s the assembly line of recovery.” Samuels, who runs his own 14-bed facility, the Hills Treatment Center, says that he used to refer patients to CRC, but ceased doing so when he felt that bureaucracy and the bottom line had overwhelmed concern for individual treatment.

One word that I hear over and over again when cannabis activists get together is “WHY?” As in, “Why on earth do we continue to punish adults who simply choose to relax with cannabis instead of the more harmful substance, alcohol?” I think the answer is clear. Follow the money!

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Michael Kane says:

    SAM should remove themselves from the conversation completely once a person understands their message. They are still saying all the wrong things. Looks like SAM is not concerned about our children. They want to use the same practice which created… this mess prohibition. SAM is sending the wrong message to the Drug Cartels and dealers. SAM I AM asking how is your plan going to keep cannabis from children? Your actions only secure more income for the Cartels . We are Americans and we want to be free of your prohibition Nanny State. and we want access to a super food. why can’t i grow this super food in my garden like our founding fathers? why are you.trying to broker anew type -form for Americans to give up their liberty. you are trying to keep things the same prohibition no jail but still a wasting of our tax dollars. please remove your we can control them like this or we could do this and then make them jump through this hoop . I am asking you please bring ideas of freedom to the table not an idea of how to control your fellow Americans.
    SAM there are rehab classes which can teach you critical thinking skill to help you through your government induced sheepdom. you could also enjoy freedom; Starts with unity on such simple issues as access to HEMP which is super foods. STOP fighting for the government fight for your fellow Americans pursuit in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • Brandon Ryan says:

    “In the end, the instructor graduated me early to get rid of me and didn’t even pee test me because he knew it would come up dirty. He was aware of my court documents stating that I could not only smoke cannabis but grow it.” – My question to this is, ‘Why didn’t he just piss test this guy and send him back to court?’ Aren’t these sort of programs setup for everyone to fail, along with parole and probation?

  • I have a friend who was forced into one of these, and when he started making noise they told him he was going to have to continue treatment for twelve more weeks (at $100 a week to him). It’s nice that some people are willing to “graduate” the squeaky wheels, but in some cases they just rake in extra money until you’re “cured”.

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