Monday, April 4, 2011

Drug Policies and the Evolving Trends

In this day and age, although society seems to be growing and expanding faster than people can keep up with it, science and technology still strive to stay ahead of the game. But who are the “trendsetters” and whose best interest do they have at heart? When it comes to substance abuse– the play changes and ball is always in somebody else’s court. Teenagers are turning to drugs of the day before they get banned. States have generally updated their controlled substance laws through the legislative process, but there is growing pressure for that to change. New regulations or updates to existing laws often take multiple attempts and years to gain legislative approval, which means many substances that prove to be harmful and even on occasions deadly, stay legal and remain on the market. Parents of teenagers are very worried for their kids’ safety. They see their kids taking substances such as salvia, a leafy sage plant that produces a hallucinogenic effect. It is smoked, chewed or taken in a potent distilled liquid extract form. The drug, which is legal, recently was in the news being used by Iowa teens. It costs as little as $9 a hit. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has issued warnings about the substance and this is the fifth consecutive year that state officials have tried to ban the drug, but still, to no avail. This is at least the third or fourth time that this salvia bill has been presented, Mark Smith of the state public defender's office told lawmakers last week. He added that if somebody besides the Legislature had the authority to regulate where these drugs go, this could have been dealt with four or five years ago.

Some state and national drug control advocates said it would be in everyone’s best interest to adopt a process similar to the one in Minnesota. There, the state's board of pharmacy can update controlled substance laws on its own; a process that often can be completed in four to six months vs. potentially years through the legislative process. However, the Minnesota Legislature can review or make changes as it sees fit. "In Wisconsin, a controlled substance board can update or enact the state's rules on potentially harmful drugs. That process, which can take more than a year, involves review from a legislative committee. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a professional advocacy group in Illinois, also encourages states to adopt processes like those in Minnesota, where a regulatory board can change drug laws without needing legislative approval." - Jason Clayworth, Many legislatures, like Iowa, are in session only part of the year, making it hard for the state to quickly enact or update drug restrictions.

Legislators Hesitate to Give Power to Board Two Republican lawmakers on the House Public Safety Committee, which oversees much of the state's drug law, expressed deep concerns about the prospect of the Legislature turning over rule-making authority to a state board. "I'm all for making the code shorter, but the one hesitancy, especially for us who have been here for a while, is that the authority by rule-making just scares the bejesus out of us," said Rep. Tom Sands, R-Wapello, a member of the House Public Safety Committee. Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, has introduced a bill, House File 29, that would grant the state's pharmacy board more temporary rule-making authority to place limits on controlled substances until the Legislature could meet to review the issues. "What scare the bejeebies out of me is young people accessing these substances," Smith said. "My feeling is that it's in the public's interest to be able to act quickly and get these substances off of the market."

The truth is that this is a frightening issue if not given enough attention. Teenagers are now more than ever looking to their peers for the latest trends. Substance abuse is increasingly becoming popular and the old laws and legislations are not holding down the fort. Perhaps it is time for some real change. If you are a parent/guardian of a teen that is abusing or addicted to drugs and need guidance, please call or helpline below.

Reach out to us. For more information on our treatment programs contact us: Teen Addiction Treatment Programs: 1-888-757-6237 Young Adults and Adults Addiction Treatment Programs: 1-888-387-6237

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