The director of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy says President Barrack Obama’s recent remark that marijuana is not more dangerous than alcohol is another mixed message sent by the administration.
Steve Lukan says the president’s remark makes it tough on those who’re trying to warn young people about the dangers of drugs. “Probably the biggest challenge that comes of this is one we’ve fought for some time,” Lukan says, “just trying to help people understand that words matter and that this message is confusing for young people. We do have a real serious issue in the state and really in this country.”
Lukan says the statistics from his office show the problems with marijuana use. “The last fiscal year we had 2,900 young people actually enter drug treatment programs because of addictions to marijuana and other problems they were having from using that drug. I think that’s the real challenge here is getting people to understand that this can be a real dangerous drug,” according to Lukan.
The president also said he told his daughters they should not use pot. “I do appreciate it I think that the president actually said he’s talked to his children….and discouraged them from using these drugs. I think that’s the real message that we need to get out, is that we can make a difference, people when they are armed with the correct information, a lot of children do choose not to engage in it,” Lukan says.
The president’s remarks came in reference to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Lukan says the actions in Colorado have an impact on Iowa. “Here in Iowa we’ve actually seen a large and consistent spike in the amount of marijuana that’s being shipped into our state that originates from Colorado,” Lukan says. “Last fiscal year it actually edged up to about 36-37 percent of the marijuana found on the street through interdiction work actually originated from Colorado.”
The ODCP director says parents can make a difference in their child’s decision regarding the use of marijuana and other drugs by talking the time to talk with them about it. “I would really encourage parents to take a few minutes and go to www.drugfreeinfo.org. There’s a lot of great resources there that can really help parents have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be scientific, it doesn’t have to be preachy,” he says.
Speakers on both sides of the issue have visited Iowa recently. Lukan sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year says the department’s decision to not enforce its federal drug laws in the states of Washington and Colorado has made the drug fight in Iowa tougher. Efforts in the Iowa Legislature to pass a medical marijuana law have failed.