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America Street USA a series of programs produced by Radio Station JF Jacey FM at Foothill College Los Altos California. Well I think you're way in the city of Sunnyvale California. Oh there is a street named America street. Families of many different backgrounds live on the street and in the immediate neighborhood. It's a melting pot of America in miniature. What are the feelings the attitudes the texture of life on America street. What do these Americans think about America as it is today. For if we are to approach the reality of the American experiment in democracy we must know
understand and respond to the opinions of America street in this series of programs. We ask you to imagine that you are overhearing a discussion among the residents of America straight as occasionally compared and contrasted with informed opinion from other sources. Today's topic drugs in America. In the past few years there has been a great increase in the use of certain drugs most notably marijuana and especially among young people. More recently along with increased usage we have seen a change of attitude toward marijuana among some authorities political as well as medical while the subject of drug use certainly has its frightening and confusing aspects. We found that the opinions of America street were relatively calm and objective. We also found that many of the residents of America street agreed at least in part with the opinions of the expert whom we asked to contribute to this program. JOEL FORD M.D. Dr. forte is the author of the books the pleasure seekers and the drug
crisis you with and the Society published by Bob's Merril in 1969. Dr. forte is a professor at the School of Social Welfare University of California Berkeley and the organizer of the Center for the solution of special social and health problems in San Francisco and a former consultant on Drug Abuse for the World Health Organization to begin the program Dr. forte talks about the medical meaning of the term addiction. Marijuana is not an addicting drug and it is not a narcotic. The reason for the widespread misunderstanding of that is twofold. The first part is that drug policemen have lied to the public for many years calling marijuana narcotic having it put under the narcotic laws and telling people it was addicting scientifically the word addiction includes developing tolerance to a drug meaning it takes more and more to produce the effect sought for. And the second thing is getting at withdrawal in
this when you stop taking the drug the only drugs that produce addiction or meaning physical dependency are narcotics a term which means opium morphine where one Demerol and methadone barbiturates and other sleeping pills and alcohol. No other drug produces it. Marijuana is not a narcotic. It is not addicting. And there is no withdrawal illness. Now on some opinions about drugs from America's street do you feel that it would help to legalize marijuana. Yes only Very much so yeah. Would you be in favor since it will. Without a limit you think a lot of. Crime or with that just easy to get and then I wanted to see if not I was going to be on this one and it's got a lot of people would feel this way. There was one something that's hard to achieve hard to come by. I don't think it will eliminate crime really I think that most of the contents of the hard drive.
That's another question here. I don't think that marijuana is pretty much the same thing if you were in that same situation where prostitution is illegal. You find that the crime rate rate things that the rate runs much higher than where prostitution is legal. But would you favor legalizing marijuana. You know. I don't know. I say no I don't I don't. And so they think they kind of equate it with prohibition. Yeah I mean I kind of I mean I guess I don't really know enough about it all I think I know is a discussion with a. You know somebody one time homebodies name to it who said this place sucks and he said that we're a patrol car one day and I stop and watch this fellow and he is going to cuss trait need to walk up the steps and jump jump again right if I went over and. I have to know what are you doing. What it was you were doing I thought he was drunk. And. He said I was jumping over the cars.
Bertha should have done the first thing you could find is that he had been indulging in smoking a little marijuana mean there and that when somebody turns around and says. Writes a magazine or it was marijuana. Has absolutely nothing to me I mean. I don't really know if they know now because the studies with LSD from the beginning of them up and some pretty bizarre things. I know the kids say well our parents drink martinis our parents or bourbon or what have you and the girls are mine and it is not any way that alcohol can be very that alcohol can rot your liver. Pickle your brain you know. And you go out and get killed while driving and drinking. I don't I don't really know and as far as marijuana Well perhaps the budget hole of course you know if you drink a. Couple Drinks you're probably going to be alright. Or is your reaction to temperature but if you have just smoked a couple of marijuana cigarettes or take a hand at the go. We're not even aware that you're.
Well I don't think that marijuana last year anywhere in the same class realms are as what might happen as early as people were familiar as to what actually does happen to them when they're doing this. If you made marijuana legalized to be just like liquor down the hoodlums and start pushing some stronger something that wasn't. The lies and another drawback from our wise miles of it is that it does lead to other higher and better things because under the influence of it you never know what's happening. I mean I want to be legalized and you know this will take a lot of but I don't see much in harm's way I don't see any harm in legalizing it. But I think that anything that person whether it be liquor or marijuana that a person certainly should do these things with knowledge and if there is something that's going to impair you physically today or a year from now. There should be enough research so that you can do these things with safety. If we are sure that there is no ill effects and it's a no habit that may come somewhere down the road where you want a greater and greater.
Thrill out of something similar then perhaps this is the effect that this is the where marijuana hurts you when the next drug use not necessarily marijuana but the stronger. What do you think it's possible that we won't find out about any possible. Effects until quite a few years later you three or four say you mean ill effects down the road from its use. Well I don't know if if you would we can say. The mere smoking of a marijuana cigarette. The physical damage done. Such as leaving tar in your lungs or whatever. If this is a serious matter but it may be that the damage is more of a moral damage and more of a habit forming thing. Well marijuana is not habit forming but it it may get a young person or whatever the age may be. That Get a person feeling that this crutch whether it be alcohol marijuana LSD or some other speed whatever. These are the
things that we should call on to get our their roles. I think this is the sickness of it that you will get into a frame of mind where instead of reading a good book course doing these other things we discuss we can get our emotional kicks out of. Instead of these natural things we have to reach. We resort to these artificially. Dr. Joel forger discusses the subject of psychological dependence on drugs as to psychological dependency. This term is very much misunderstood also. It simply is the layman's concept of habituation. It means you get so used to something psychologically from a period of regular use of it and that something need not just be a drug it could be television or something else. You get so used to it that when that something is no longer present you become restless irritable and don't know what to do with yourself. It is true that psychological dependence occurs with marijuana just as it occurs with
caffeine nicotine alcohol sleeping pills stimulants narcotics and a variety of other drugs. In other words it is not unique with any drug. It does not occur with everybody who uses a particular drug and when it does occur it is not necessarily destructive or disruptive of their life. You can only determine that by definition of drug abuse which you then apply on an individual basis to a particular person. That definition being excessive use of any drug whether alcohol or something else to an extent it damages the person's health or damages their social or vocational adjustment. We return to the opinions of America St. Paul I like. Ike. It's only America obviously marijuana is some guy's drug and I don't know what you thought but it's obviously something
drug. And so I knew just how. Far are you going to go. Maybe you can say one is good one's bad. We're all that. So I guess you could say they were all good. Live now anywhere to great just plain cigarette. Maybe you know our I think marijuana use thing where cigarettes were 50 years ago. You get well some of the quitters of prohibition and it was the same thing you guys are getting away with it it's not it's not that different you know you forcible anything you think well going to get taken from the social standpoint provisionally. If we tried it obviously failed and created all of the site areas of crime during that period it was that we tried to force it. I don't actually think you can separate marijuana from the rest of the picture.
However in this area when we don't feel good but for. Medical supplies. People.
Who wanted to. See drugs and wanted to continue to get prescription which is the way they do it. Successfully they have that way. For a long time at least it will dominate the pushers. And the criminal element that's involved in it. But I don't think it went yeah I don't know. I never having had any now one I don't know whether. And not knowing enough about it I don't truly know I'm not through with even the marijuana of it so harmful that it doesn't relate to others. I'm not convinced of this but I was trying to compare it to some other situation to
grow in your head your error if I do. So from that standpoint it would seem to be sensible to legalize marijuana. But by the time you think there is less drinking and less crime but by legalizing marijuana you lie that you're condoning it and I think that that would be too bad because it is a dangerous drug in the sense that. It in itself is not harmful. But she even makes it more dangerous because it so I'm City is in a sense that it lowers the car of the youngster to then want to go ahead and try other drugs. But you wouldn't consider were not already aware of it how harmless marijuana is so that if we legalize it then in a sense for condoning it. So it's an awfully difficult question. Yes I think that. Would be very visual to eradicate the criminal
aspect to the one that is from this from the position. From their position as providers supplier. Oh and also the idea of putting the users the users in the position of being criminals. I think that's very destructive. Or what do you think should be done about the problem. He mentioned that there may be more stringent laws and maybe a new pushers rather than users will feel similarly. Well yes I think that the emphasis simply put in the pushchair. Down. What to do about it. Or not take up a lot of stuff but the laws are very harsh right now it can be answered and the laws are being enforced upon the whim of our judge or rescuing a very Western target. I think the answer probably is more better education.
That of the users. Much the same as a day on television today in respect to cigarettes. Here again is Dr. Joel forte. Now the question on legal policy. For about a decade I have led the fight in this country to take the drug user out of the criminal law. And that is the first prong of my public position on it not just with marijuana but for all drug use including the illegal use of alcohol and tobacco by people under 21 or 18. I believe that that should be dealt with from a public health meaning preventive standpoint stressing education and attacking the causes social and psychological of the use of drugs from alcohol through narcotics that the drug user should never be treated as a criminal should not have their lives destroyed through arrest records or through actually being institutionalized and that the criminal law should be
reserved first of all for antisocial behavior which is much which is mushroom in this country and being very poorly dealt with. I mean particularly crimes against a person of murder or rape manslaughter. Secondly crimes against property burglary theft embezzlement. And in the drug area criminal law should be reserved for major traffickers in a drug they society considers unwise. Never for the private user or possessor of that drug marijuana or some other drug. These are much more rational priorities and would be much more effective. Once again the opinions of America St.. Oh a lot of them say that it's sad and unfair but I'm not sure. About it I think it has to do with. The. Facts and I want to phonetically just injuries. Again and it should be controlled like any drug that injures someone on the market. Let every slight angle
so or whether you have to have a prescription for it. And not enough research really in this case you get controversial reports again. In some cases. Yours and others. Or if it is only. As alcoholism you can usually to relax and it's not injurious. But I've seen. Young people. Change it as a way of life where it just didn't leak and they are feeling. Their. Energy. Sure they. Dropped school and sat around and did nothing. I mean. This is a question for research I think and. If it is injuries it should be controlled like a religion. When it's a question of psychological courses. As it was with the young people who were using it as an escape. This is one of becomes dangerous. They need help. And if you can get them. If you can get help to them. What motivated them to go to hell for themselves. Without.
Legalizing. Drugs. War with legalizing it would depend I mean which is the gist of it is does jail do this to do this. If you put somebody in jail is that giving them help. Well I'm trying to tell you what happened to the lady you know put them in jail. I'm repeating I don't have a position. For or against legalizing marijuana as I said I believe that if it is dangerous it should be controlled like other Johns. And we don't have the information so I'm not making a stand not only repeating what these. Young people said on the stage. Who acted out. Their experiences in the curagh when. These were Xstrata. Who believe it should not be illegal. And that it was nothing put to jail. That cured them. But being given the alternative. Of going to jail or going to any place. For treatment I think the danger one of the dangers kids smoking marijuana is that they're going to gather with
other youngsters who are using other things like that's going on here and I think it's the danger of the type of person. That is using a drug and there they tend to congregate and maybe you know. Encourage one. Young person to try something about her. I think controls on the fact that it feels good because. The some of the young people get caught up in this stuff. You know the rule is your life. Is a dirty shave I mean I just can't see it I mean if it makes you sick to the right of. You and. If this. Is a true No I won't leave it. This wouldn't happen. So I think it doesn't get to control rooms and people you use drugs more today or do you think they do. Probably do work today because you can get them. To hear anything more plentiful in my day and on my day they were. The
ones I must talk to. About drugs. He heard much about. I mean they were. My role was that it was a tighter control and I got a very much kids are more scared of drugs when you're in your day than they are now. It could be immediate and it could be that good. But they say that was for many. Families with both feet. There. Were. And there was a closer watch. Kept on children. I think nowadays any good. Allow your children I mean no young people getting in trouble and so forth and I don't think it's their fault at all. I think it's holding dates back to the parents. I mean because like you said before children only know what it brought up what they're taught. In supervision and so forth I mean if you don't give them that I mean how can you do anything different. I mean if they don't get the love in the attention at home that they're supposed to they're going to get somewhere.
I think I would've done the same thing myself in my day. Dr. Joel forte medical authority on Drug Use and Abuse concludes his remarks. Now if the society. Feels that there is only one choice as opposed to present criminalization The present any fact of an destructive policy that we have in regard to marijuana and other drugs. If that only choice is legalization then I believe marijuana should be legalized because that would be have far fewer problems no matter what they might be. Then the present very destructive effects of the extreme fanatical laws and their enforcement by drug policemen. But I do not believe that the society the society should be faced with just those two alternatives. I believe in the more selective reforms I just described where you distinguish between the user and the major trafficker. Or you worry about all drugs and not
just marijuana or you want to ban all advertising of alcohol and tobacco label all packages and containers of those drugs have a massive educational program in the schools rehabilitation programs and most of all attack the alienating. Groups of drug use in our society the dissatisfaction with education with religion and with the institutions and leaders of our society. It dissatisfaction which is felt particularly by the young but also by older Americans and which I see as one of the major causes of the massive use of alcohol tobacco and marijuana. Now for other opinions from America's street Why is it that kids are using more drugs now days when you were teenagers. Well I feel is that. Because they want to escape from reality and the degree of reality within which they find themselves intolerable and that they feel ineffectual
and they feel that there is nothing they can do. They don't believe in tomorrow. They don't believe in the future. And so the only way that they can cope with reality is to is to to. To take drugs out to kind of stress you know people you know feel there's more pressure put on young people and I think. What pressures but are there the pressures of my wife's The XO. I don't think the young people walk around fearful of life and the atomic bombing. And the destruction of the ecology around us and therefore resort to drugs because of the hopelessness of their future. You know it's more of a personality disorder known as a personality disorder. I think you know once again that an expert a feeler or every this is is a snap judgment as a guy could give. It just strikes me that in my youth
we had just about the time that I was old enough. People. My age in other words out of the youth of my time or worse began to think that booze was a drag. Yet the prior generation you know the Roaring Twenties thought that liquor was the greatest thing ever invented simply because it was prohibited during their time in speakeasies ridges. Granted everybody violated the law and this was maybe the other. The college kids took up part. Maybe there's some of that. I don't and furthermore right now as of this moment of time I sense that the hard drugs. But like Alice the cocaine heroine and this said there are a lot of barbiturates to speed drugs it's over I have a feeling that the kids are beginning to say this is all a drag. As a set of giving up marijuana but they take marijuana that much differently that
adult my age takes a drink or two a scotch. What do you think kids are using more growth in the years. When they did seem to be old. I just. Can't help but think that life must be rather dull for a lot of these kids. I don't know I guess maybe it's because they've had a lot of I think most kids in this country and have a lot of things to say they've started partying and dating and so forth. But 12 13 guys take protein. Just something else to try I guess because maybe they. Had to much rather know maybe they have a son happy that they're looking for something better. I don't know and I think that sometimes I lie about our college students or just don't. Are having a very good time. Letter to college we have all. The time made we didn't care as much about the world I don't think we were superficial or something that I think being young would be time to have a good time and I don't
know why. They need to know that we drank my share of beer and stuff. But I think there are two big factors there variability of the drugs. Now. And more than. The sickness that has hit this generation as a result of the fear of Vietnam and the. Fact these young people feel. The the boy's particular hero. Here is a set of values thrust upon us with which we completely disagree. And yet we can't do anything about it. We can't stop this thing. So we just take. Sort of a devil may care attitude about some of it. The things that we do in one of these would be the use of. Drugs and the feeling among many young people is that some of the drugs marijuana in particular simply in itself
America Street, U.S.A.
Episode Number
Drugs in America
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “America Street, U.S.A.; 2; Drugs in America,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021,
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APA: America Street, U.S.A.; 2; Drugs in America. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from