Drugs in American Society
"The most recent story of 'drugs in American society' is divisible into two parts pointing in opposite directions. We can caption the first of these two stories, 'the mainstreaming of marijuana'--which Time magazine referred to in its 2017 stand-alone publication, Marijuana Goes Main Street. The legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, its commercialization, its legal use as medicine in more than half the states of the United States, all express the conventionalization, normalization, and de-stigmatization of the use and sale of cannabis. The most recent high school survey released a preliminary media statement that revealed a remarkable, newsworthy, and almost astounding development that expresses this tendency: More seniors smoked marijuana during the month prior to the survey (22.9%) than had smoked tobacco cigarettes (9.7%). In 1991, 40.6 percent of seniors saw 'great risk' in using marijuana; in 2017, only 14.1 percent did. The fact is, commented the reporter who covered the story for The New York Times, we are living in an era in which marijuana is 'quietly condoned' or 'tacitly approved,' even though a majority may not use it regularly (Hoffman, 2017). The second of these stories is gloomier, nastier, indeed, catastrophic, and that is the huge rise in overdose deaths as a result of taking one or more of the opiates. Between 1999 and 2016, fatal drug overdoses in the United States nearly quadrupled, from about 16,800 to about 64,000, and more than two-thirds of these deaths were induced by prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl. This is an astonishing development, and completely unprecedented in the history of American drug-taking"
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