Posts tagged ‘drugs’

‘Zero Tolerance’ May Harm More Than it Helps

The camping utensil brought to school by Zachary Christie

The camping utensil brought to school by Zachary Christie

Six-year-old first grader, Zachary Christie, was recently at the center of a debate over a school district policy when he brought a camping utensil to school. The tool looked like a pocket knife and contained a fork, spoon, can opener, and a small knife. For bringing a deadly weapon to school, Zachary was suspended for five days and was prohibited from returning to Downes Elementary School until after 45 days at an alternative school. Zach says he brought the tool to school so he could eat his pudding. (source)

The Christina School District, in Newark, Delaware, has a so-called “zero-tolerance” policy against bringing dangerous items to school, spurred mostly by safety concerns raised by Columbine and other school shootings. But after public outcry over the extreme sentence for a 6-year-old who wanted to eat pudding, the Christina School District decided to reexamine it’s harsh policy. “We need to recognize the cognitive level of these kids,” said school board member John Mackenzie. “We need to provide a little leeway.”

Political Rhetoric

“Zero-tolerance” is great political phrases. When a politician or a school board member up reelection uses it, they’re seen as “tough” on crime and someone who is protecting the public from all the bad people out in the world who want to harm them. But a one-size-fits-all approach to punishing criminals is rarely productive and can often be harmful to both the criminal and society.

Drug Policy

For example, ANY drug offense will bar the offender from receiving any future federal student aid money. This zero-tolerance policy means that any person convicted of possession of any amount of controlled substance can never receive federal loan or grant money to attend college. I realize that this punitive measure is meant as a deterrent to keep kids off drugs, but it also harms ex-drug users by denying them any help in getting an education and turning their lives around. On the other hand, if you are a child molester, rapist, or murderer, you can receive federal student aid without any problems.

Sex Offender Laws

In addition, sex offender residency restrictions are very popular for obvious reasons: no one wants a convicted sex offender living next door to them or next to a school or playground. However, overly harsh restriction laws also prevent former offenders from finding descent housing, pushing them to edges of society where their likelihood of re-offending is actually higher—as evidenced by the case of Philip Garrido. Offender residency restriction laws have also been used to keep sex offenders from attending church and receiving counseling, and, in Florida, has created a homeless sex offender camp underneath a bridge where over 100 registered sex offenders live, creating a public health and safety concern. These one-size-fits-all policies not only punish violent sex offenders like rapists and child molesters, but—in some states—punishes those who have urinated in public or had sex with their high school girlfriend after they turned 18.

Get Smarter

As citizens, we need to step back from zero-tolerance rhetoric and take a smarter approach to handling criminals in our society—not a “tougher” approach. Fortunately, the Christina School Board reversed its zero-tolerance policy and allowed for the age and cognitive ability of the perpetrator to be taken into account when assigning punishment. Now that Zach can go back to school, what has he learned from the whole experience? I’m sure he’s learned not to take a camping tool to school anymore, but how will this experience affect the way he views teachers, rules, law enforcement, and any other form of authority from now on? Will he see them as allies and protectors, or will he see them as vindictive enforcers who would rather punish instead of teach? For his sake and for ours, I hope it is the former.

Check out this video of the Christina School District debating the policy, as well as reactions from concerned parents:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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October 15, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

GHB and Meth: More Accessible, More Dangerous

A story in the Kansas City Star this past weekend highlights the growing threat of GHB to young people. GHB, long characterized as a date-rape drug, is growing in popularity with young people and athletes. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), is a central nervous system depressant, that when taken in small doses can produce a high akin to drinking five beers very quickly with a trace of PCP.

Kansas law enforcement recently raided a loft and found a GHB manufacturing operation, leading them to believe that the drug is much more pervasive than originally thought.

This news comes right on the heels of a warning s about a new form of methamphetamine production that has been dubbed “shake-and-bake meth.” The new method is much easier than traditional meth production and only requires a soda bottle, a handful of cold pills, and a few other chemicals. It’s much easier to hide and cheaper to produce.

Some information for parents:
GHB is a clear, odorless liquid. When stored in a plastic bottle in a freezer, the liquid will not freeze. Users tend to experience heightened anxiety, mood swings, severe headaches, and insomnia.

Meth is usually in a clear rock form, but can be in powder of liquid form as well. Users tend to experience increased violent behavior, irritability, nervousness, and insomnia.


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August 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

Police Warn About ‘Shake and Bake’ Meth

Police in West Virginia are warning law enforcement about a new way of manufacturing meth that is easier and is harder to detect. The new method has been dubbed “shake and bake” meth, and can be made with ordinary, over-the-counter products and can be mixed in a two-liter soda bottle. The new form of meth manufacturing requires less space and less equipment and does not give off as much of a smell, making it harder to detect.

The method has spread across Arkansas and is making it’s way into other states.


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August 12, 2009 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Illegal Drugs Disguised as Cartoon Character Vitamins and Candy

Law enforcement officials in Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Utah have recently intercepted large shipments of Ecstasy and other illegal drugs shaped as Snoopy, Homer Simpson, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Smurfs, and President Obama’s head. The pills are also brightly colored and look like children’s vitamins or candy.

From a marketing perspective the drug dealers are trying to make their product appear harmless and fun; however, if a child were to accidentally mistake these dangerous drugs for candy, they could experience a spiked heart rate, seizures, and even death.

Although cartoon character shaped drugs are not a new phenomenon, as parents it is important to remember to talk to your children, not only about drugs, but about the ways that drugs could be packaged. Make sure that they know the difference between the way medications look and the way candy looks. As well, make sure they know they should never eat any candy that they find laying around, any candy that is given to them by a stranger, or any candy that was not given to them by someone they trust.


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July 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

Drug Overdoses Outnumber Fatal Gunshots

There is a constant discussion about gun safety in the home, usually revolving around issues of safety versus security. But what gets lost in the shuffle of our focus on guns and gun laws are other threats that have a potentially larger influence in our lives.

Speaking at the National Institute of Justice conference yesterday, federal drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, urged law enforcement, mayors, and governors to focus more attention on the country’s drug problem. Kerlikowske pointed out that there are more fatal drug overdoses in American than there are deaths from gunshots.

What is worse, Kerlikowske points out, is that less than 10 percent of the 20 million Americans with substance abuse problems actually receive adequate treatment.

Although there are real threats to our personal safety, there are also threats that do not have a face. If you are protecting your family and neighborhood from intruders, and other bad guys, don’t forget about intruders that don’t have a face and cannot be shot, stabbed, or put behind bars. Make sure to protect your children and family members from substance abuse through education and support. If you know someone with a drug problem, do your best to get them into treatment, so that they don’t become another statistic to be cited by the federal drug czar.


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June 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Legal Hallucinogens Pose a Growing Threat to Young People

Unfortunately, current drug laws do not cover all harmful substances. There are still many hallucinogenic drugs that are perfectly legal to buy, sell, and grow in your own backyard. And access is as simple as doing a search on eBay. Drugs like Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, moonflowers, and salvia divinorum give the user a quick hallucinogen high that is cheaper than buying marijuana and has the added benefit of being legal.

The homegrown hallucinogenic are growing popular among teens and college-age students due to a prevalence of YouTube videos and blogs featuring accounts of drug trips and instructions on obtaining and cultivating the drugs.

But just because they are legal does not mean they are safe. Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds are know to cause acute psychosis and intensify suicidal thoughts.  The drug is also thought to be a factor in the suicide of a 22-year-old Michigan man.

Some state legislators are attempting to criminalize these drugs and ban them altogether, but progress has been slow.

It is important to know that even if these drugs are legal and can be bought in local headshops, they are not safe to use. Not only can a user injure him or herself during a hallucinogenic trip, but use of harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs by teens has shown to be an indicator for drug abuse and addiction later in life.


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May 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment



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