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Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Isn't Liquor Considered a Gateway Drug in Kentucky?

The term "Gateway Drug" is somewhat ambiguous and is rather misleading and now it has become a hot topic issue in the state of Kentucky. The question is, whether alcohol or marijuana should be labeled a "Gateway Drug"? Kentucky is a state that is well known for whiskey production, home to the finest bourbon distilleries in the country and tobacco companies. Teenagers and young adults are much more likely to have drunk alcohol and smoked cigarettes first than smoke pot; yet, marijuana is the drug that has been labeled the drug that opens the doors to addiction.

Rand Paul and Jack Conway are in a race for the Senate and they both have different views on drugs and alcohol. Paul believes that the state should be in control of drug policy, it's a local issue. He's against the federal drug war. Conway, conversely, thinks that marijuana in any way, shape, or form - even growing hemp - would be a dangerous gateway drug and should be illegal. Conway is asking the Federal government for more funding to help Kentucky fight illegal drugs. What's interesting is the fact that Conway has a vested interest in leaving alcohol and tobacco alone. According to Reason Staff, "Bourbon is how Jack's wife makes her money and pads close to half of Jack's family income. How hypocritical is it for a man, who makes money off a liquid drug that has only one purpose to get you drunk, to turn around and put the label of "gateway drug" on a plant that can do so much more than get you high? While all this time his own wife is part of the people who produce alcohol as part of the Brown-Foreman Public relations team."

Clearly, alcohol has had more to do with getting people on the path to alcoholism and drug addiction than marijuana. Marijuana certainly has its side-effects, but, it does not seem right that marijuana has been branded the "Gateway Drug" and not alcohol, when it is alcohol, especially in a state like Kentucky, that kids generally start experimenting with first. Our policy makers are driven by money and their ability to make more of it, giving alcohol the Gateway brand would certainly be bad for the multi-billion dollar business that alcohol has become. Let's call a spade a spade for a change and then we might have a better chance at making a real change. The legality of marijuana has become a shield for the alcohol and tobacco industry.

Is it time to stop ignoring the realities of alcohol, according to the CDC:

64% of Americans drink alcohol, with 50% ‘regular drinkers’.

22,073 alcohol caused deaths a year (2006), deaths unrelated to accidents, suicides or homicides

About half of these deaths are from liver disease from alcoholism

What are your thoughts on the subject...

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