Saturday, August 27, 2005

Methadone Clinics and Zoning

Rockland, Maine, is still pulling out all the stops to keep a methadone clinic out of the downtown area. I know they say they want it in an area of certain zoning, but they're really trying to zone it into an area where it will never be able to make a go of it.

I think that drug users have become so demonized and dehumanized in our society that otherwise sensible people think strange things about them. Like that the drugs themselves make people commit crimes. Wrong. It's the illegality of the drugs that raises the price so high that some addicts resort to crime to pay for them.

I once sat on a subway car in Germany and watched a heroin user cook and shoot up. Nobody else on the car seemed too worried, either. Don't get me started about Amsterdam, where both legal and illegal substance users abound. What makes drugs dangerous is when people decide to take them and do something like drive a car or swim across the bay. What makes them even more dangerous is how the rest of society reacts to the people who are using them.

Don't get me wrong: I do not use drugs other than the occasional caffeine or alcohol or over-the-counter remedy or anything that a physician might prescribe for me. I think that most people should avoid most drugs for recreational purposes. But I do think that people should not be thought of as untouchables because they are leading a life I wouldn't lead.

Indeed, so many of my friends and acquaintances use marijuana that I marvel at the fact it is still illegal.

But when people are actually wanting help to cease their addiction, and a method of some utility exists, and the local government stands in the's beyond comprehension. Makes me a little bit ashamed to be a native and former resident of Rockland.



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