K2 Ban Misguided

September 27th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Earlier this summer, David Rozga, an 18-year-old teenager from Indianola, committed suicide after smoking a substance called K2. This substance contains synthetic cannabinoids found naturally in cannabis and could be legally purchased in many Iowa stores as well as many websites such as Amazon.com. The incident prompted the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to place an emergency ban on K2, rendering it illegal for the time being. It is indeed a sad story, and my condolences go out to the Rozga family.

However, let’s forget for a moment that any drug – whether it be alcohol, codeine, Cialis, or any other drug – can cause a negative reaction in certain human bodies (my girlfriend becomes violently ill from codeine). Let’s forget for a moment that the mother of one of David’s friends said that David had been depressed for months and previously spoke of suicide, and that K2 probably exacerbated the situation. Let’s forget for a moment that this 18-year-old teenager had access to a firearm, which he ultimately killed himself with, and that the firearm had as much to do with David’s death as K2.

Let’s forget all this for one moment and ask ourselves a few questions: Why has there been so much attention given to this substance and this case (so much so that the substance is now illegal), when alcohol causes more crime, violence, and death than K2 ever has and ever will? Why was there no uproar to make alcohol illegal after the death of ISU student Raven Nicole Gileau? Why is there no uproar when drunk drivers kill innocent bystanders? Why is there no uproar when an intoxicated father beats his family? In Iowa, and probably in almost every other state in the Union, alcohol causes more crime than ALL other drugs combined (this fact can be found in the 2008 Uniform Crime Reports for Iowa on page 121 – I invite you to look it up). To say there is a double standard here would be putting it mildly.

Our great country has serious inconsistencies about what it will allow to kill you. We ban drugs like cannabis and K2 (drugs that you cannot overdose on, that do not cause physical dependency, and that would cause less death – and even be less of a factor in deaths that they somewhat cause – than alcohol) but we allow alcohol and guns to be legal. To be clear, I am not proposing we outlaw alcohol or guns; I believe in liberty and education. In fact, these illegal substances need to be legalized and regulated the same way as alcohol and guns. Each substance needs to be studied and thoroughly explained to the public; and the specifics of each law need to be adjusted accordingly to the specifics of each substance, just as laws regulating guns differ from laws regulating alcohol.

In our nation, one in 31 adults is in the corrections system, more than one in 100 adults are in jail, and more people are in federal prison for cannabis offenses than violent offenses (about 60 percent of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drug-related offenses, and Iowa alone spent $44 million on cannabis prohibition in 2000). When you start to look at what we are subjected to, you would be remiss not to shudder. The saddest part is that nothing will likely change as long as we allow legal bribery in the form of PACs, and as long as the alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical lobbies – which consider these illegal substances their competition – remain so powerful. The only way reason will every triumph over corruption, obfuscation, and ignorance is if we never cease in hounding our politicians and corporately owned media. It may take a long time, but so long as we cherish our liberties, fiscally sound budgets, and ultimately our principles, the fight will be worth it.

In closing, I would like to address one thing: how some people, even those that agree with me, might perceive this letter. I can see that some might view it as callous or insensitive, in light of David’s tragic death. This might be true; it even pained me to write parts of this. But it is precisely these times that we must act not out of emotion, but instead with reason. Prohibiting K2 will take away more money from people who need it and infringe upon our ever-dwindling civil liberties, thereby damaging more lives in the long run. We must keep our heads.

Tags: AP Issues · Letters to the Editor · September 2010

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Matt Nosco // Oct 7, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Well-written and articulated Dan. I was directed to this story from someone in one of my journalism classes who vouched for it as the only message they’ve received in the media that has ‘changed their outlook’ in a while.

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