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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Looking at How Xanax Hits the Brain and Hurts the Body

Looking at How Xanax Hits the Brain and Hurts the Body

By now, most people are familiar with the prescription drug Xanax to some extent or another. It has been one of the most popular anti-anxiety medications for many years now, and it has also garnered some infamy throughout our current culture through music and media. Hip-hop artists, like Future in the mainstream or… wait for it… Lil Xan in the underground, have promoted the use of the prescription drug for recreational purposes. Even television shows have made seemingly flippant comments about using the now-notorious medication to take the edge off.

Xanny bars are commonly characterized today as chill-pills, just like amphetamines were promoted in the 60s as “uppers” for the guy or gal on the go. The same can be said about other name brand benzodiazepine medications, such as:

But do people really understand how hard Xanax hits the brain and hurts the body?

Xanax on the Brain and Body

To get caught up to speed, Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam. This is one medication included in a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or benzos. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for anxiety.

Like all drugs taken orally, it’s absorbed into the body through the stomach. The drug passes through the mucous membrane and enters the liver. Finally, in the bloodstream, it makes its way to the brain. Now for those who don’t know, the blood-brain barrier is a membrane that filters out dangerous substances. It is built in to protect us. However, drugs like benzodiazepines are able to pass through this barrier. That is how they are meant to work.

Benzodiazepines work on parts of the brain known as GABA-A receptors. GABA-A receptors are responsible for producing sedative effects. They are naturally switched on by chemicals used to carry messages around the brain. Those chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

GABA-A receptors are switched on by the GABA neurotransmitter. This is a chemical that creates a calming effect.

Benzodiazepines are agonists, meaning they amplify the GABA-A receptors’ effects. They attach themselves to the GABA-A receptors and increasing the effectiveness of the GABA neurotransmitter. Taking Xanax activates that GABA-A receptor and kicks it into overdrive.

Now none of this is inherently wrong. In fact, doctors typically prescribe Xanax to treat anxiety, which can be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. In those cases, the effects created by Xanax in the brain actually correct an imbalance. Dr. Cathy Montgomery, reader in psychopharmacology at Liverpool John Moores University, says:

“If somebody’s experiencing high levels of anxiety, they have an increase in chemicals like adrenaline, which would normally make you feel more alert and awake, and a deficiency in GABA. High levels of adrenaline and low levels of GABA have a double impact of increased excitation in the brain, which people experience as anxiety. When they take Xanax, they won’t necessarily get the same type of heavy sedative effect.”

So in essence, Xanax does have a job to do. The issue is, so many people found out what a thorough job it does and decided it could be taken advantage of. Use of Xanax without the imbalance in the brain to cause that heavy sedative effect is what recreational users are looking for. Actually, using Xanax for recreation creates a self-inflicted imbalance in the brain. This creates a lot of issues because the body will try to preserve the balance, which only sets things up to get worse in the long run. Montgomery states:

“Whatever you take, your brain will try to regulate it. It may release adrenaline to try and combat this,”

So while your brain might fight back by releasing adrenaline, you won’t feel it until the effects of the drug wear off. The body takes several days to completely release the drug, even if noticeable effects will wear off after a few hours. The drug first detaches itself from the GABA-A receptors in your brain. Liver enzymes break it down, and eventually, the body gets rid of it.

How It Hurts

The issues can start to take shape once the drug detaches from your brain’s receptors. Like we said before, the effects will start to wear off, and the brain will still be trying to maintain its equilibrium. That self-inflicted imbalance we talked about then suddenly becomes a devastating crash. A sudden increase in brain activity finally breaks through the fog when the Xanax is gone, which can cause feelings of anxiety, agitation, insomnia, even terror.

Xanax use can actually create a cycle of dependency very quickly because while they may not have experienced anxiety before taking the drug, they have created it through the imbalance in the brain that may cause them to seek more of the drug. Before you know it, you are self-medicating to treat these symptoms, which are actually withdrawals created by the drug.

For those who use this medication for sedative effects, another issue presents itself. Benzodiazepines are supposed to be prescribed for a short time. To feel the same effects, people find they have to use larger and larger doses. And taking large doses for sustained periods of time can actually cause the body to stockpile significant withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawals aren’t just painful, they are extremely dangerous.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle aches
  • Tension in the jaw and/or teeth pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness in fingers
  • Tingling in limbs
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Alteration in sense of smell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Cramps
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Impaired respiration

Stopping the use of these drugs abruptly has been known to cause seizures, and detoxing without medical assistance can even be lethal.

You don’t have to use Xanax for an extended period to experience withdrawals. Some people with prescriptions have even reported to feeling withdrawals between doses. Repeated use can lead to withdrawal symptoms in a very short amount of time. Another issue we find is that GABA-A receptors are concentrated in an area of the brain known as the hippocampus, which is important for memory and is believed to be the reason why these drugs can cause blackouts.

Xanax becomes even more dangerous when combined with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids. Not only can combining these drugs be harmful to the body, they can actually be life-threatening. Often overdoses involved benzodiazepines like Xanax occur when the drug is used along with other substances that have a compounding effect, such as alcohol or opioids. The drugs react to one another and cause more severe reactions in the brain and the body.

While anti-anxiety medications can be useful for those who suffer due to an imbalance in the brain, everyone should be aware of the risks associated with Xanax and similar substances. Dependence to this drug can be incredibly hazardous, and discontinuing use should always be done with the utmost caution and with medical assistance. No one should try to stop abruptly without consulting a medical professional, and for those who struggle with substance abuse, there is help.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call Palm Partners Recovery Center toll-free now. You are not alone.

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The Different Drug Categories and What Drugs Qualify

The Different Drug Categories and What Drugs Qualify

When we are in a crucial time of combating substance use disorder and drug addiction in America, it could be useful to remind everyone of the key differences in different drug categories and which common drugs can qualify for these descriptions.

Needless to say, this is not a complete list of every known drug. Truthfully, there is a vast library of known chemical combinations that are utilized as either medical treatments or abused as a means of recreational intoxication. There are the more abstract medications that have no known recreational use, and there are many synthetics that can be far more complicated.

Still, plenty of drugs that we know of have been put into different classes. Here is a brief breakdown of the different drug categories and what drugs qualify.

Prescription Medical Drugs

First we will make a more solid distinction between medical drugs and recreational drugs. Sadly, prescription drug abuse has become a major problem in the country. The opioid crisis has been largely impacted by the abuse of drugs created for medical use. It is important to be aware of the dangers of prescription medical drugs.

Many medical drugs have side effects that make them appealing to people who don’t have a real medical reason to be prescribed these substances. Common medical drugs to be abused include:

Benzodiazepines

Amphetamines

  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Ritalin

Opiate painkillers

The tragedy we have learned through the opioid crisis is that even though these drugs are typically prescribed for medical purposes, they can be extremely dangerous. That includes people who use them recreationally, and for those who are prescribed the medication because of the risk of physical dependence.

Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others, and many can be deadly when taken improperly or with other drugs, especially alcohol.

Recreational Drugs

Recreational drugs are substances specifically used to achieve a desired feeling, or to get ‘high’. Most recreational drugs are illegal. Some legal drugs are recreational, and some recreational drugs are legalized in certain areas for medicinal purposes.

Recreational drugs are typically categorized into three main categories: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.

  1. Depressants

Depressants, which are also called ‘downers’ are drugs that depress activity in the body, meaning they slow down the messages sent to and from the brain. Examples of depressant drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Opiates (such as heroin and morphine)
  • Sedatives (such as Valium)
  • Some glues, petrols and other solvents

An individual is at an even higher risk of overdose from depressant drugs when consuming different types of depressants at the same time. Large amounts of depressants can cause life-threatening respiratory issues and loss of consciousness.

  1. Stimulants

Stimulant drugs are also known as ‘uppers’. The term refers to the way these drugs make someone feel ‘up’ or ‘alert’ by speeding up the messages sent to and from your brain. Examples of stimulants include:

  • Amphetamines (such as speed or ice)
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine

Some of the hazardous side effects of stimulant drugs include:

  • Severe strain on the heart
  • Increased body temperature
  • Paranoia
  • Anxious
  • Psychosis

Combining different stimulant drugs, or using stimulants with depressant drugs can create even more strain on the heart and the body, which can cause major health problems or even death.

  1. Hallucinogens

Hallucinogen drugs are psychoactive agents which can cause hallucinations, anomalies in perception, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. Examples of hallucinogens include:

  • LSD (acid)
  • ‘Magic’ mushrooms
  • Ecstasy
  • Mescaline
  • High doses of cannabis

Hallucinogen drugs do a number on the mind, and therefore they tend to make people experience things like:

  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Risk taking behavior
  • Psychosis

Legal VS Illegal

One thing that we should always keep in mind is that a drug isn’t necessarily safe just because it is legal. Whether or not a drug is illegal, it can still pose a great deal of problems to different people for different reasons.

Consider alcohol. This is a legal substance, but it is still considered by many to be the most dangerous drug there is. That isn’t to say that it is as potent as drugs like heroin, but the danger rating comes from the fact that it is deadly, addictive AND highly accessible! For one, someone can get alcohol poisoning and die if they drink too much. Also, alcohol withdrawals can be some of the most dangerous there are. Add in the fact that it is extremely addictive, even more lethal when combined with other drugs, and can be purchased on pretty much every corner in America.

THAT is a dangerous drug.

Synthetic Drugs

Then, there are synthetic drugs. These substances can be ambiguous when it comes to being flat out illegal. For a while there were constantly news stories about new dangerous synthetic drugs being sold as “legal highs” that were making people deathly ill. In some cases, people did die.

Synthetic drugs can also fall into any of these categories, for example:

These drugs can be far more dangerous than others because of the often random chemical combinations they come in, being cooked in homemade labs with substances that have no clinical trials on human biology.

Drug and alcohol rehab programs are designed to put you in the best position to succeed with as many resources as possible, and it all starts with a healthy detox. Understanding the different drug categories may help you better understand the importance of a safe and effective treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Family of Chris Cornell Believe Anxiety Drugs Caused Singer’s Death

Family of Chris Cornell Believe Anxiety Drugs Caused Singer’s Death

Author: Justin Mckibben

Since late last week, the tragic story of the sudden death of rock legend Chris Cornell has taken some heartbreaking and bewildering turns. While the initial reports held no details of the singer’s unexpected death, more recent reports have indicated the cause of death was suicide. However, as the story continues Chris Cornell’s family is skeptical and openly critical of this conclusion. Now some are speaking out saying it was drugs, and not depression, responsible for the sudden passing.

Born Christopher John Boyle, the 52 year old Seattle, Washington native was one of the most recognizable voices of American rock music. His famous and powerful vocal belting technique along with an impressive voice range has inspired countless artists and soothed the rock genre with its passionate and often brooding words. The guitarist, singer and songwriter is best known as lead vocalist for the bands:

  • Soundgarden
  • Audioslave

Cornell was also the founder and front man for Temple of the Dog, a tribute band dedicated to his friend, the late Andrew (Andy) Wood. Andy, Chris Cornell’s roommate who played in the band Mother Love Bone, died in 1990 from a heroin overdose.

He is also known for his numerous solo works, soundtrack contributions since 1991. Cornell is credited as one of the architects of the 1990’s grunge movement

Chris Cornell was found in the MGM Grand Detroit in the early hours of Thursday morning, May 18, 2017. He had only hours earlier been on stage performing with his Soundgarden band.

Multiple Addictions

Since his teenage years Chris Cornell struggled through multiple battles with addiction and roads to recovery. In one 2006 interview Cornell actually talked about having a bad experience with PCP at age 14 and developed a panic disorder. He admitted that as the child of two alcoholics, drinking ultimately led him back to drugs in his late 20s.

The rocker managed to get off of drugs and alcohol between around the year 1980 up until 1997. Around 1997 his first marriage was failing, and the band Soundgarden had split up. Cornell resorted to using substances including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.

In 2002 Cornell checking into rehab, and afterward commented on the experience stating:

“It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help … it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know.”

Chris Cornell also noted in an interview in 2011 that the biggest difference he had noticed when Soundgarden had reunited and began making music together was that the presence of alcohol was no longer constant. Without conversation, it had just been removed from the picture.

Wife Vicky Refutes Suicide Reports

Although he was a profoundly emotional musician with a catalog of melancholy or blues melodies, many have called into question whether Chris Cornell would actually knowingly take his own life, including his wife, Vicky. Reports have said Vicky does not believe Cornell was suicidal. Less than 24 hours after the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Chris Cornell had died as a result of suicide by hanging himself, Cornell’s wife and attorney openly challenged that conclusion. Lawyer Kirk Pasich said in a statement:

“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris – or if any substances contributed to his demise,”

The statement also said the family found these implications disturbing, and that Chris Cornell was a recovering drug addict who had been taking a prescription anti-anxiety medication Ativan. The statement added:

“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,”

The statement included medical literature indicating that,

“Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.”

The Night Of

Vicky shared her heartbreak over the loss of her husband of 13 years, the father of their two pre-teen children, and told interviews that Cornell, a devoted husband and father, had come home to spend Mother’s Day with his family between shows, and flown to his next stop Wednesday.

“When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do,”

“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”

In her own words Vicky reasserted the belief that his anti-anxiety medication had played a bigger role in the tragic events, stating:

“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”

Cornell leaves behind his wife Vicky, their two children- Toni, 12 years old and Christopher, 11 years old- as well as his 16 year old daughter Lillian Jean from his first marriage to Susan Silver, the former manager for Soundgarden.

Chris Cornell on Black Days

Some might argue the following statement supports the suicide claims, but others could argue it supports the doubts presented by Cornell’s family. Back in 2014, Chris Cornell had spoken in depth with Rolling Stone magazine for a 20th anniversary edition of his band Soundgarden’s ground-breaking Superunknown album. When asked about the song “Fell on Black Days” he had said,

“I’d noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, “Things aren’t going so well, and I don’t feel that great about my life.” Not based on any particular thing. I’d sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn’t a catastrophe. There wasn’t a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody’s parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same.”

No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you’ll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that’s something that – as far as I know – we don’t necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write.”

What this may suggest is that beneath how happy Chris Cornell was with his family and his future, some part of his perspective could have made him even more vulnerable to a sudden shift created by a powerful medication designed to impact emotions.

Anti-Anxiety Drug Ativan

Is it possible that anti-anxiety medication could have played a part in Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide? According to the list of side-effects for Ativan and the common opinion of experts as to the risks associated with these drugs, absolutely.

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam. This prescription drug calls into the category of benzodiazepine (benzo) medications. Lorazepam is typically used for treating:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleep problems
  • Active seizures
  • Sedation
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include:

  • Worsening depression
  • Unusual mood or behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of balance or coordination
  • Memory problems

The truth is, Ativan is intended for short-term use, specifically for treating anxiety. In fact, the FDA advises against using any benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, for longer than four weeks. There is a very real risk of dependence, withdrawal symptoms and even overdose.

The Dangers of Legal Drugs

Back in March 2016 we wrote about how data shows that in the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribed. What is even worse, independent reviews from different research groups showed that in many cases the pharmaceutical companies were misrepresenting suicides or suicidal thoughts in their own research reports.

Could the unusual behaviors and slurred speech Vicky described of Chris Cornell be signs of something else at play? Could a lifetime of struggling with a panic disorder, depression and drugs have been exacerbated by the presence of a chemical that worsened his depression, throwing his mood into chaos and flooding his vulnerable state with thoughts of suicide have been the cause of such a heartrending and desperate act? Drugs, legal or not, can devastate.

Now, there is definitely a shadow on the sun.

We have seen time and time again how legal, medical drugs have destroyed amazing and talented individuals. We saw it with Michael Jackson and Prince. We’ve seen how depression plays into the same tragedies, such as with the loss of Robin Williams. Still, one thing Chris Cornell spoke of with addiction is that it becomes glorified by the fact drugs kill famous people, and the world weeps, while ignoring the everyday tragedies of the unknown but extraordinary, everyday people. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Big Pharma Hiding Anti-Depressants Relation to Suicide Epidemic?

Is Big Pharma Hiding Fact that Anti-Depressants Are Related to Rising Suicide Rates?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

While the nation seems to have recognized the looming threat of an opiate epidemic that has been claiming lives in record numbers in every state, others also believe there is another epidemic that exists in our country that sits insidiously in the shadows of other issues, getting worse and worse as time runs out for more and more people. This epidemic is one that isn’t as easy to see in action because its symptoms are much more personal and subliminal than the warning signs and effects of drug abuse, but it is an epidemic that is just as crippling and perhaps even scarier because it is so much harder to see it coming. However experts insist the United States is also in the grips of a suicide epidemic.

As a suicide survivor and someone with a history of prescription drug abuse, I can say this story was significantly disturbing considering all the elements involved. Don’t get me wrong, I see the positive impact some people experience with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. One might say I would be a likely candidate for either, but my suspicion was definitely spiked when I read some of the information in this report.

The assessment of a rising suicide epidemic comes in aggregation with various other intense and terrifying reports- including the underreporting of suicide rates related to antidepressant use by the Big Pharma companies responsible, and an increase in overdose of anti-anxiety medications.

Now an analysis of recent reviews on common antidepressants is leading us to ask- is Big Pharma hiding that anti-depressants are related to these rising suicide rates?

The Global Suicide Scale

The issue is not only confined to the United States. According to the World Health Organization in 2015 suicide is now the 3rd leading cause of death, representing a 60% increase worldwide over the past 45 years!

A recent study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015 found that British males between the ages of 45 and 49 had a drastic increase of 40% in suicide rates in just 7 years. In retired males, or pensioners, the increase was 10%.

One report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in shows statistics that found an estimated 9.3 million adults in the United States (3.9% of the adult population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year.

Shocking Statistics

The Nordic Cochrane Center carried out a review later analyzed by University College London (UCL). Of most of the medications the primary statistics that were found to be most shocking were those for:

  • Selective serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

These antidepressants, according to the review, actually double the rate of suicide and aggressive behavior for adolescents and young people under the age of 18. But more troubling than the fact these medications intended to treat depression actually increased risks of harmful side-effects was the fact that the review determined there was “serious underestimation of the harms” by the Big Pharma companies. This leads the authors of the study to infer that older adults are likely to also experience elevated risk of suicide than the makers will admit.

  • The report states that more than half of the suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts had been misreported in case studies as “emotional instability” or “worsening of depression.”
  • In a summary by Big Pharma company Eli Lilly suicidal attempts were missing in 90% of the cases

In the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribes. So as the drugs were being distributed at magnified amounts, more people were simultaneously dying due to overdosing on them.

Conclusions on Corruption

Dr. Tarang Sharma of the Nordic Cochrane Center stated in the research that,

The analysis suggests that clinical study reports, on which decisions about market authorization are based, are likely to underestimate the extent of drug-related harms.”

Many experts involved in this review and the proceeding analysis have said they find it troubling that one could conclude more and more patients are being prescribed these medications and taking them in increasingly hazardous doses over time, but no one in Big Pharma seems to see there is an issue with how they report their product studies.

So even if the Big Pharma companies behind the antidepressants aren’t aware if their drugs are responsible for suicide rates rising, shouldn’t they be paying closer attention to how they examine these products?

While it is true there is no clear cut reason for why suicide rates all over the world are rising at such a tragic and terrifying rate, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication don’t seem to be making it any better when you take a closer look at the records. Yet Big Pharma continues to turn a serious profit while avoiding any blame in the cause of these deaths and covering up any connection with catch-phrases like “emotional instability” instead of giving their potentially damaging drugs an honest appraisal.

Depression, thoughts of suicide, and anxiety are all medical conditions that need attention and treatment. Too often powerful prescription drugs are seen as the only solution, which can evolve into substance abuse and addiction. Depression also can come hand in hand with alcohol use disorder or drug addiction, and all these point to increased rates of suicide. There is a way out, even when we don’t see any hope. If you or someone you love is struggling please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.

Bernie Sanders Proposes Bill to End Federal Ban on Marijuana

Bernie Sanders Proposes Bill to End Federal Ban on Marijuana

Author: Shernide Delva

Marijuana reform continues to be a major topic in the presidential campaign and this week, Bernie Sanders went farther than any presidential candidate in supporting marijuana and the fight to end the War on Drugs.  Bernie Sanders became the first presidential candidate to propose a lift on the federal ban of marijuana. If passed, the bill would give states the right to legalize marijuana without having to go through the federal government.

The bill was introduced on Wednesday and is modeled after a previous bill proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013. It was reintroduced this year as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. The bill would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list as a Schedule 1 drug.

Drugs like heroin, Ecstasy and LSD are considered schedule 1 drugs and are considered to be the “most dangerous drugs.” Bernie Sanders said during his speech at George Mason University in Virginia that he believed considering a drug like marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin is “absurd.” Bernie Sanders believes that states should be allowed to regulate the sale of marijuana the same way drugs like tobacco and alcohol are regulated and should be able to do so “without the fear of prosecution.”

Legal Marijuana: A Cash-Only Industry

As of right now, states that profit from the legal marijuana industry are not able to use the nation’s banks to do business. Nearly all the banks refuse to take money from marijuana sales or refuse to offer basic checking or credit card services in fear that they’ll be shut down by the federal government. National banks will not do business with marijuana growers, retail shops, medical dispensaries, processors and even employees out of fear of prosecution. If this bill is passed, then this will no longer be a concern.

Until then, the legal marijuana industry is forced to deal with the risks of being a cash only business.  Because marijuana remains a federal Schedule I drug, it makes it illegal for financial institutions that depend on the Federal Reserve System’s money transfer to take any proceeds from marijuana sales.

If Bernie Sander’s bill passes, retailers will have less fears about being robbed and businesses will no longer have to show up at the Washington State Department of Revenue with “boxes and suitcases” stuffed with bills to pay their taxes.

Bernie Sanders believes the bill will be a huge step forward in the movement to grow the economy and restore fairness to the justice system. The bill comes a week after Sanders first proposed reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous substance. He argued that marijuana reform is essential to reform America’s criminal justice system

“In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws,” Sanders said “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

A Gallup poll released last month revealed that 58 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana use. Four states have legalized recreational marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Under the Sanders plan, people in these four states would no longer be subject to federal prosecution for using marijuana if the bill is passed.

Marijuana Reform: The Overall Consensus

Changes to states laws regarding marijuana reform have garnered a controversial reaction. It remains a heavily debated topic of discussion. Presidential candidates have varied opinions on the matter and some are unable to make solid choices in regards to their plan of action. Just last week, Donald Trump changed his view on marijuana reform again after going back and forth on his views several times. Hilary Clinton has stated that she is only in support of marijuana for medical purposes.

Marijuana has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. For example, a recent study showed that marijuana can help treat addiction to stimulants. In addition, many health studies have shown that marijuana is effective in helping patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses.

Still, marijuana is not proven to be 100 percent safe. It can have detrimental effects on developing brains of adolescents and some studies show it can negatively impacts memory.  Additionally, just like any other drug, marijuana can be abused and some people even develop a psychological addiction to the substance.

Ultimately, it is up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. States like Florida and Ohio have come close. Now, Nevada is in midst of voting marijuana reform. Knowing the reasons for reform can make the choice much easier.

Marijuana reform has positive and negative outcomes, but it is ultimately up to voters in states that are considering reform to make the final decision. It is important to know both sides to the argument before deciding how you personally feel. Remember, any substance, legal or not, can be addictive and if you find yourself abusing a substance like marijuana, it is very important that you seek treatmentIf you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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