Our Drug Problem

We’ve been told to “just say no” to drugs. We’ve been warned. We’ve been prosecuted and imprisoned and rehabilitated. We’ve been cajoled and counseled and criticized. Yet we haven’t been convinced. At least not enough to change our deadly ways.

We’re a nation of drug addicts. And our addictions are killing us.

In the first decade of the millennium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, for the first time in recorded history more Americans died from drug-related complications than automobiles. Drugs have overtaken everything else as the leading cause of accidental death.

This is a stunning development in light of the tens of billions of dollars we’ve devoted to our failed “War on Drugs.” From a return-on-investment standpoint one would expect at least a nominal lessening of the drug scourge, a dip in the line graph. Instead, the more resources we exhaust, the worse our results. We continue to consume drugs as though they were peanuts, and the dismal results, the numbers say, are approaching epidemic proportions.

If the first four paragraphs of this essay upset you — and they should — please read the next sentence carefully. Of the tens-of-thousands of deaths documented in the CDC study, not a single one was attributed to marijuana.

Not 1%. Not .5%. Not even .01%. None.


As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the chief culprit in drug-related deaths between 2000-2008 isn’t a gentle flower that grows in your backyard. It’s prescription drugs –the stuff that comes from legal pushers called doctors and distributed through retail networks called pharmacies.

Deaths from cocaine and heroin are on the rise. But commonly abused prescription anti-anxiety and pain drugs are involved in drug-induced deaths with greater frequency than cocaine and heroin combined. Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax-related deaths spiked 284% in the past decade. Since the 1950s, when they started replacing barbiturates for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and seizures, these dangerous synthetic killers have been successfully marketed by Drug Cartels called “pharmaceutical companies” as the easy answer to our mental problems. Except they’re killing us.

The most commonly prescribed (i.e., legal) drugs in America are pain pills: OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Norco, Dilaudid, Methadone. Treatment admissions for abuse of these highly addictive synthetic killers are up 500% over the past decade. Michael Jackson’s physician is currently on trial for killing the pop star with a surgical anesthetic. I myself lost my best college friend to a Vicodin overdose. He wasn’t the foul stereotype of a strung-out drug addict cooking up heroin in a filthy basemen hovel and robbing old ladies of their purses. He was the New Drug Addict,  a nice Jewish boy from Scarsdale, New York, with a thriving business, a Venice Beach condo, and a persistent backache. He got hooked on pills acquired through a doctor’s prescription and died in his bed as his girlfriend, who mistook his labored breathing for heavy snoring, slept in the living room.

The chief medical benefits of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica (otherwise known as pot, weed, and grass) are pain and anxiety relief. Marijuana is non-toxic. It’s impossible to overdose on marijuana. And yet, as you may be aware, our federal government classifies it as a Schedule One controlled substance with no medical benefit, even as the legal and socially acceptable poisons we procure from our socially acceptable pushers kill us more frequently than our death-boxes-on-four-wheels. We have a serious drug problem.

In the great state of Oklahoma, home of the brave climate change denier Senator James Inhofe, a woman (a mother) was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling an undercover officer $31 worth of pot. This kind of absurd injustice occurs every day in America, where we criminalize one drug (the stuff you can grow next to your tomatoes), legalize another (the stuff you get from Rite-Aid), and fetishize another (alcohol) during our sporting events and family celebrations. We have a serious drug problem.

Just as producers of tobacco products have successfully bought off legislators and regulators, who allow them to earn sensational profits while they kill their fellow citizens, pharmaceutical companies have successfully “lobbied” the government to support massive marketing campaigns in which their toxic products are portrayed as good for us. The truth is the exact opposite. We have a serious drug problem.

We teach our children to fear a common plant while we simultaneously pump them full of pills for every malady known and imagined. We have a serious drug problem.

We also have an elegant solution available to us. Unfortunately, it would require a society-wide level of independent thinking that most of us, narcotized by our televised sports and singing competitions, aren’t capable of. It would require rejecting nearly a century of powerful and pernicious propaganda. It would require tearing up our prescriptions, cleansing our livers, and calming our anxious minds and aching bodies in a salutary bath of nature’s gift to the human brain.

We have a serious drug problem: Too many of us accept the criminalization of cannabis.




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34 Responses

  1. Tam says:

    I do think physicians over prescribe medications. I have encountered this personally. I think western medicine has become very symptom-oriented. A pill for this one, a pill for that one. Western medicine has taken the responsibility from the patient in their general well-being unlike the holistic approach where it heavily incorporates natural supplements, lifestyle change and diet. I do think our medicine is not using marijuana for its salutary benefits. For a weed that grows out of your backyard, it is one of the cheapest medicines available to mankind for so many illnesses.

  2. Sharp73 says:

    Amen. Amen. Amen. I’m going to make all my square friends read this. Everyone, actually. Great essay. Thank you. You’re good.

  3. Pharme194 says:

    Very well said. Worth sharing, I think.

  4. bcs says:

    Wonderful writing about this problem. I want my friends to read this.

  5. 24 Coupe says:

    Wonderful writing. This is the kind of thinking that should be shared around the internet. I want people to read this. Thank you, Konik.

  6. G.S says:

    Awesome article. THANK YOU. I am going to now read your book Reefer Gladness so you got me hooked. Drug problem, I guess.

  7. LV46 says:

    Excellent writing and also very, very informative. I’m wondering why conventional wisdom doesn’t realize this. You must continue your writing! I’m confident, you will have a huge reader base.

  8. T. A. says:

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I think any one who enjoys pot should share this with someone who wants to make us criminals. Did I mention it’s brilliant? THANK YOU.

  9. cam says:

    It’s very usefull information that you share. I wanna thank you for sharing this. We need to THINK about our problems, not just be dogmatic. Your essay illustrates this nicely.

  10. Phar 876 says:

    Hello! YOu raise some interesting points. But do you really want to live in a world without drugs? An aspirin can be very helpful, you know. Anyway, I like your thinking. It’s interesting.

  11. Vic CK says:

    Humor will get you nowhere. Don’t try to be sarcastic in print. Never works. Just stick with statistics.

    I’m kidding.

    Sort of.

    Now I’m going to get high. On coffee.

  12. stopper says:

    I accept as true almost all the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re really convincing and certainly withstand reflection. Nonetheless, the posts are too short, especially for those wishing to learn. May just you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post and for your accomplished writing.

  13. H.O.H says:

    I was looking at some of your articles and I think that this site is really instructive for careful readers. Keep on posting! We’re reading.

    This post is EXCELLENT. Totally true.

  14. Janna says:

    I am sharing thsi with every person I know who disapproves of marijuana yet smokes cigarettes, drinks beer, and guzzles coffee. THANK YOU.

    Really wonderful and elegant writing. I would expect something like this in Newyorker. Very cool to find it here (for free).

  15. Lips says:

    First thing that has to happen is for Gil Kerisowke the Drug Czar to be removed. He’s a fascist pig.

  16. LaToya's Daddy says:

    Hello, Mr. Konik. You are a brilliant writer, but you have dangerous ideas that I believe will get you in trouble. People like things the way they are for a reason and you should not make fun of things just to show how smart you are, especially when parents have problems with their kids taking drugs.

    I get what you are saying, but maybe less sarcastic?

    Thank you.

  17. CP says:

    In my view, if all bloggers wrote as well as you do, the internet would be a lot more useful for reading instead of watching porn. Let’s get high!

  18. gratis says:

    Hi. i found your blog today and I have read some great posts over here. This is maybe my favorite? Very smart approach. I just wanna thanks you for sharing.

  19. informer says:

    Thanks for the great essay. As a toker, it amused me. I hear all the BS constantly. Next time I’m just going to say “read MK”s essay.” Count on it. By the way, how can we keep in touch?

  20. NBC says:

    Terrific work! This is the kind of information that should be shared around the world. Disgrace on Google for not positioning this essay higher! Come on over and consult with my website. You’re a master.

  21. L 24 c says:

    I just like the way you write Funny but intelligent. Smart. Good luck finding a following!

  22. GSD says:

    Want to get high with me?

    No? Do YOU have a drug problem?

    No, of course not. That’s because you’re working on clever little essays where you show how smart you are compared to the average ignorant drug addict American. Whatever.

  23. Toronto says:

    A friend gave me this essay and I’m stunned by how absolutely RIGHT ON it is.

    THANK YOU, Michael Konik. We need about 50 million more people to think like you.

  24. Toronto says:

    Amazing analysis. Fantastic job!

  25. Montreal says:

    You managed to express everything that’s wrong with America in one essay about drugs. Impressive. I will probably be back to read more. Thank you

  26. Toronto says:

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm and intelligence. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to state how they believe. All the time follow your heart. YOU are on to something.

  27. snore says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I wish I could get EVERYONE to read this essay. Spot on. We have a “drug problem” but it’s not pot!

  28. Sis says:

    Any questions anti-pot idiots? Didn’t think so. Before you try to criminalize MJ, please READ THIS ESSAY.

  29. wally says:

    My big problem with this is that you seem to suggest that Drugs actually are GOOD, not bad. So why did you call it DRUGS ARE BAD? if what you believe is that they are good? NOt sure what your getting at here. Is it only me?

  30. bagger vance says:

    My brother the pothead gave me this and I must say I’m impressed. NOT CONVINCED…but impressed. Food for thought…

  31. קטנות says:

    Hello, from Israel.

    We agree, we agree! It’s time to wake up and get real.

  32. ska says:

    Beautiful…Amazing…thanks for sharing.

  33. LWL says:

    Thank you for sharing your essay “Our Drug Problem” Michael Konik. It is now required reading in my circle.

  34. SEC Hog says:

    This made me laugh. Maybe it’s just another clonazepam trip I’m having. LOL