My July 7 column about the new drug study by the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area (LWVCA) put me in a bind. How do you encapsulate 111 pages of dense text and graphics into an 800-word column? Obviously, something is going to get left out. Fortunately, in the 21st century we have these handy little blogs, where columnists can throw in last-minute, after-thought, and left-over ideas and material after we reach the bottom of the written page. So here are some important facts from the LWVCA drug study that I would have included in my column if I had had a few hundred more words.
1. The LWVCA study considers tobacco to be the gateway drug to harder drugs. "Research has shown that if kids don't smoke tobacco, abuse alcohol or use other drugs until they are 21, their risks of ever doing so are profoundly diminished. And tobacco is the most common gateway drug to the others: teens who are current smokers are more than 5 times likelier to drink, 13 times likelier to use marijuana, and almost 7 times likelier to use other illegal drugs like cocaine and heroine, than nonsmokers....
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that South Carolina spend $62.2 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program. In 2010 South Carolina will spend $3.2 million for tobacco prevention and cessation, including both state ...and federal funds. This is just $5.2 percent of the CDC's recommendation and ranks South Carolina 44th among the states in funding of tobacco prevention programs...."
2. The LWVCA believes that drug addicted pregnant women should be given priority placement in drug abuse treatment programs. The LWVCA does not support criminal charges for the mother in cases where the newborn tests positive for drugs.
3. The LWVCA believes official drug laws and policies should include:
* Drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration:
* Legal possession of medical marijuana, when prescribed by a physician;
* Reliable and equitable state funding for all county drug courts.
Find the entire LWVCA study at www.lwvcharleston.org. If our General Assembly and Congress read this study and took it seriously, it cold transform this badly misguided country.