Ritalin 4, Marijuana 0

by Roland Lindsey

A new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is a good indicator of just how poorly conceived drug policy in America is. MSNBC has the AP article here. From the article:

In the study, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center evaluated 1998-2005 data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. During that time, nationwide calls related to teen abuse of ADHD drugs, specifically stimulants, increased from 330 to 581 yearly, and there were four deaths. Overall, 42 percent of teens involved had moderate to severe side-effects and most ended up getting emergency-room treatment.

My daughter has fairly intensive ADHD. Adopting a regimen involving Concerta in the morning and Ritalin in the afternoon meant the difference between passing and failing 9th grade. I resisted medicating her for years, and when it was clear that she was making less and less progress in school and in social relationships, I relented. I believe it was the right decision. Her grades went up, she made some friends she could keep, and so long as she took her medication, she stayed on a stable course.

Another reason I decided to put her on medication was based on a study done some years ago that linked ADHD with increased probability of drug abuse and other risky behaviors. It isn’t surprising that kids who are predisposed toward risky behavior and drug abuse will abuse drugs that are handed to them a month’s worth at a time. What is surprising is that despite all of the evidence that ADHD medication can and does kill children, and despite all the evidence that ADHD medication can and does lead children to abuse these drugs, Ritalin is legal and Marijuana is not. While Marijuana has yet to claim an overdose victim, there were 4 deaths from ADHD drug abuse in the study.

Imagine a freer America where Marijuana is controlled to the same degree that ADHD medicine is controlled. In addition to the personal liberty we would enjoy, and the drastically reduced cost of incarcerating those who deal in the substance, we would perhaps see a similar study showing Marijuana abuse, only this time it would not include the deaths of children. A Conservative who believes it is permissible to make ADHD medication available to children despite the chance of abuse and death, yet believes it is impermissible to make Marijuana available to adults is no Conservative at all. Conservatives, after all, deal in reality.

Democratic Congressman Barney Frank has recently introduced yet another bill attempting to adjust drug policy to obvious reality. Conservative Republicans should be the ones introducing this bill, if they want any credibility with those of us who would see drug policy determined by the facts, and not ideology. Ritalin is not going away, and neither is Marijuana. One kills, and the other does not. This is the reality.

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Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm  Comments (3)  
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