The Homeless Are A Danger To Themselves And To The Rest Of Us

The once beautiful streets of San Francisco are now littered with needles and human waste. The homeless commit crimes to support various drug habits. Diseases that we have not seen in America for decades are appearing in the community. Who knows how the coronavirus will impact these people. The city does not seem to be able to deal with the problem. Where do you start?

On Tuesday The City Journal posted an article about the homelessness problem. The article reminds us that new data undermines the idea that homelessness is the result of high rents and lack of economic opportunity.

The article reports:

But new data are undermining this narrative. As residents of West Coast cities witness the disorder associated with homeless encampments, they have found it harder to accept the progressive consensus—especially in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, which has all Americans worried about contagion. An emerging body of evidence confirms what people see plainly on the streets: homelessness is deeply connected to addiction, mental illness, and crime.

Homeless advocates argue that substance abuse is a small contributor to the problem, and that no more than 20 percent of the homeless population abuses drugs. Last year, when I suggested that homelessness is primarily an addiction crisis—citing Seattle and King County data that suggested half of homeless individuals suffered from opioid addiction—activists denounced me on social media and wrote letters to the editor demanding a retraction. But according to a recent Los Angeles Times investigation, 46 percent of the homeless and 75 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a substance-abuse disorder—more than three times higher than official estimates from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

In the interest of preventing “stigmatization,” progressives downplay the connection between schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder, and homelessness. In general, cities have claimed that roughly 25 percent to 39 percent of the homeless suffer from mental-health disorders. As new data from the California Policy Lab show, it’s likely that 50 percent of the homeless and 78 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a serious mental health condition. For residents of cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, this should come as no surprise. The people smashing up property and yelling in the streets are clearly suffering from mental illness. The numbers confirm the ground-level reality.

The article concludes:

Residents in the most progressive enclaves of West Coast cities have quietly begun to demand policy changes to address the obvious causes of the homelessness crisis. In San Francisco, city leaders have launched a new initiative to focus on the 4,000 individuals who suffer from the “perilous trifecta” of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. Mayor London Breed has spoken frankly about the human causes of homelessness, and Anton Nigusse Bland, a physician and director of mental health reform for the city, has pledged to “develop a strategic approach to mental health and substance use services for people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.”

This is a small but promising step. Especially now, with the threat of an infectious disease becoming a national crisis, it is imperative that city leaders come to grips with the dangers of letting people live in encampments that lack even rudimentary sanitation. We can only hope that this new awareness extends to other cities. For now, more than 100,000 people in California, Oregon, and Washington continue to languish in the streets.

Rhode Island has put in place a program that has been successful in dealing with the problem of homelessness. The problem includes counseling, drug rehabilitation, reintegration into the community and reintegration into family units. The program is a public-private partnership that has been successful in getting many of the homeless reintegrated into society. Similar programs need to be instituted on the west coast. It is a disgrace that America has not done more to help those among us living on the street. Throwing money at the problem or ignoring it is not the answer. It takes a commitment to helping the homeless deal with the mental problems that have resulted in their living on the street.

This Has Happened Before

KOMO News in Washington state reported yesterday that the number of Washington state drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for THC has doubled.

The article reports:

According to research by AAA between 2008 and 2012, an estimated eight percent of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate now is more than double since weed became legal in Washington.

In the five years before legislation, an average of 56 Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes each year were THC positive. In the five years after legislation, that average jumped to 130.

“We know that marijuana use can inhibit concentration, slow reaction time, and cloud judgment. There’s no reason to think that’s not going to happen when you are behind the wheel. That doesn’t suddenly change,” said Kelly Just of AAA.

THC is the active compound in marijuana and can stay in your body for a period of time before disappearing.

“There really isn’t a test to show impairment, so you may have it in your system, may not be impaired. You may have it in your system and may be impaired. Because of that our recommendation is if you use marijuana, don’t drive and if you plan to drive don’t use marijuana,” said Just.

“We’re running across people under the influence and driving all the way from teenagers, all the way up to people in their forties and fifties. So keep in mind the safest bet is just to not get behind the wheel if you plan on using marijuana that day or night,” said Trooper Chris Thorson of the Washington State Patrol.

I know there is a move for legalization of marijuana, but I question the wisdom of legalizing a drug for recreational use in the middle of an opioid epidemic. There are a lot of pathways to drug addiction and a lot of things that can happen when drugs are used for recreation. The pattern of increased accidents caused by an increase in marijuana use as a result of legalization has been seen in other states. The legalization of marijuana may make some people happy, but it makes all of us less safe.

News That Goes Against The Political Grain

Fox News posted an article today about the impact of marijuana on the adolescent brain.

The article reports:

Two health professionals penned an op-ed in The New York Times on Sunday that despite society’s shift on marijuana use, it does not change the fact that the drug is not safe for high school and college students.

Kenneth L. Davis, the president and chief executive of the Mount Sinai Health System, and Mary Jeanne Kreek, the head of Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Rockefeller University, cited studies that show a “deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents.”

The column said marijuana use can impair “executive function, processing speed, memory, attention span and concentration.” They said the explanation is simple: the adolescent brain is still vulnerable “especially the prefrontal cortex.”

“The chemical in marijuana responsible for producing mood elevation and relaxation, THC, interferes with the exchange of information between neurons,” they wrote in, “Marijuana Damages Young Brains.”

Davis and Kreek penned the column in response to New York and New Jersey considering legalizing marijuana for those over 21.

Marijuana is not as harmless as it is being made out to be. In October 2018, I posted an article about a man who had begun using marijuana is his 20’s and became addicted to the drug.

The article reported:

There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous started in 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition. Alcohol abuse became rampant, and the country almost drank itself off the rails. Will the same thing happen with marijuana?

Marijuana isn’t alcohol or an opioid. You can’t die from an overdose. It doesn’t really evince physical cravings. So is it better to call my problem marijuana “dependence”? Does it matter?

Cannabis should be legal, just as alcohol should be legal. But marijuana addiction exists, and it almost wrecked my life. If you have a problem, you are not alone.

I am not convinced marijuana should be legal. I think we have more Americans addicted to marijuana than we realize.

A Story That Needs To Be Told

On October 6, Neal Pollack posted an opinion piece in The New York Times. The title of the opinion piece is, “I’m Just a Middle-Aged House Dad Addicted to Pot.”

The opinion piece details the author’s journey from using marijuana regularly in his 20’s to the realization that he was hooked on the drug.

Some observations from the author:

I started smoking regularly in the ’90s, when I was in my mid-20s. Pot made everything better — food, music, sex, cleaning — and it made nothing worse. I got depressed less often. I laughed all the time.

But I also lost my temper for no reason. Did I yell at strangers in public? Probably. I barely remember, because I was stoned. But I do remember that once, high as a promotional blimp, I got into a bar fight with a former friend and broke his tooth with a beer bottle.

Back when my writing career was booming, I got invited a couple of times to do readings in Amsterdam, a bad gig for a pot addict. Once, after ingesting a couple of THC pills, I dumped a pitcher of water over my head and insulted the Iraqi representative to National Poetry Day Amsterdam. Another time, I pulled down my pants and flashed a crowd of several hundred. If I had any boundaries, weed erased them thoroughly. The boom ended fast.

…In early November (2017), I had the chance to fulfill my lifelong dream of attending a Dodgers World Series game. I spent way too much money on a ticket that turned out to be fake. So high that I couldn’t remember where I’d parked, I started screaming outside the stadium. If I’d been sober, I would have just called the vendor and gotten a refund. That’s what I ended up doing, eventually. But not before security guards surrounded me.

I looked into a car mirror and saw an old man, sobbing over a baseball game. That was the moment I accepted that I had a problem. Three weeks later, I quit.

Mr. Pollack has a few thoughts on how to handle the legalization of marijuana:

There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous started in 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition. Alcohol abuse became rampant, and the country almost drank itself off the rails. Will the same thing happen with marijuana?

Marijuana isn’t alcohol or an opioid. You can’t die from an overdose. It doesn’t really evince physical cravings. So is it better to call my problem marijuana “dependence”? Does it matter?

Cannabis should be legal, just as alcohol should be legal. But marijuana addiction exists, and it almost wrecked my life. If you have a problem, you are not alone.

I personally think marijuana should be limited to medicinal purposes and be a controlled substance. In places where it is legal, children have gotten into mom and dad’s stash and had severe medical issues. There is also an increase in auto accidents due to driving while under the influence of marijuana. I understand that the concept of medical marijuana has been abused in the past, and I have no solution for that. I just think most people function better when they are not under the influence of drugs (or alcohol).

No, It’s Not Harmless

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted a story about the impact of marijuana use on teenagers.

The article reports:

Cannabis is responsible for 91 per cent of cases where teenagers end up being treated for drug addiction, shocking new figures reveal.

Supporters of the drug claim it is harmless, but an official report now warns the ‘increased dominance of high-potency herbal cannabis’ – known as skunk – is causing more young people to seek treatment.

The revelation comes amid growing concerns that universities – and even some public schools – are awash with high-strength cannabis and other drugs.

The findings also back up academic research, revealed in The Mail on Sunday over the past three years, that skunk is having a serious detrimental impact on the mental health of the young. At least two studies have shown repeated use triples the risk of psychosis, with sufferers repeatedly experiencing delusional thoughts. Some victims end up taking their own lives.

Obviously the article deals with the situation in Britain, but I suspect some of the results of this research are also reflected in America. The problem in Britain is related to the potency of the marijuana used by teenagers. I am unfamiliar with whether or not American marijuana has the same potency. I do know that I have heard numerous people familiar with marijuana in America say that the marijuana available in America today is much more potent than the marijuana that was available during the 1960’s. I don’t have a problem with the use of marijuana in certain medical procedures, but I wonder if it can be administered in pill form and tightly controlled in order to avoid abuse by teenagers who think it is cool. Keeping marijuana away from teenagers after making it legal will probably be about as successful as keeping alcohol away from underage teenagers in the past.

The article further states:

The large rise in the number of youngsters treated for cannabis abuse comes despite the fact that total usage is falling slightly.

The report concludes: ‘While fewer people are using cannabis, those who are using it are experiencing greater harm.’

Almost all cannabis on Britain’s streets is skunk, which is four times more powerful than types that dominated the market until the early 2000s. It can even trigger hallucinations.

We need to rethink the legalization of marijuana. It would be horrible to waste the minds of the generation that will lead this country in the future.