Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Issue with Legalizing Drugs.

I have commented often in my blog about legalizing drugs and my opposition to legalization. Whenever we are in the same room with each other an attorney friend of mine and I have spirited discussions about drug legalization and we often send each other news clippings and research to back up our stances. I came across this article this morning in the Santa Fe New Mexican. It discusses the shortage of employees at the Oil Fields in the Lea County Area. I recently met with the Chief of Police in Questa New Mexico at a Region wide Drug Enforcement Meeting. He was looking for help in his area because of the same problem. The Questa Mines which are operated by Molycorp and are used to mine Molybdenum. Molybdenum is used to make alloy metals. The Chief of Questa says the mines are asking for help because of the high rate of employee applicants and current employees who are failing random drug tests.

I have not talked to my attorney friend about this but I suspect even she would be against having users working in mines, oilfields, as bus drivers, train engineers, pilots etc. So what would happen if we legalize even small amounts of marijuana? Alcohol can be out of your system in 8 to 12 hours depending on how small the amounts are. Marijuana on the other hand can remain detectable in your system for up to 45 days. The most common period of time is anywhere from 3-30 days, depending on your metabolism and the amount of marijuana that youÂ’ve smoked. This is unfortunate, since it means that while most drug tests can only turn up evidence of other drugs if youÂ’ve been taking the drug within a few days of the drug test, marijuana could still be detected in a urine test up to a month after the last time it is used. If you smoke it occasionally it will remain in your system for up to 10 days. If you smoke marijuana on a regular basis it will stay in your system for as long as 45 days, and if you smoke marijuana at a constant pace, it can stay in the body for 90 days, Marijuana is fat soluble. It stores in the fat cells of the body, the brain, the liver, the kidneys, in other words the major organs.

So, what do we do with those jobs which we deem unacceptable to have drug use show up in tests? Or do we come up with an acceptable amount that will be allowed in these types of jobs? How do we determine that acceptable amount knowing that different peoplabsorbbe and get rid of amounts at a different pace than others? In Alcohol we have determined as a society at least in New Mexico that .08 blood alcohol level is the most we will allow the average citizen to have in their system and still be able to drive. However, most companies, taxis, police, government workers, etc. still have a .00 requirement for work.

If drugs are legalized even if only small amounts of marijuana are allowed employers will have a whole new predicament to deal with. I know at the jail and in law enforcement roughly half of all prospective applicants fail either the background check or the pre-employment drug test. Drug and alcohol is the predominant factor among all the inmates in jail. Whether the underlying charge is domestic violence or rape and murder the one common thread you will see is substance abuse whether its drugs or alcohol.

I am still adamantly opposed to drug legalization but I have to admit that my attorney friend makes a good argument. I do know people who have used, or not to my personal knowledge but I at least have a feeling that they recreationaly use marijuana and they are functioning members of society. I also know many, many more who used marijuana and now are hopelessly addicted to worse drugs. I also know many who still only use marijuana but are still not functioning members of society, at least not to the level I feel should be considered functional.
My feelings in this situation go back to high school. I had several friends who were considered "pot heads" in high school. My mind goes back to a particular two friends from high school. One started with marijuana went to cocaine, killed a man, raped a woman, and is back in prison for drug dealing after at least two previous stints in prison. The other friend,...... He is dead.

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