Into the Field

Amy Ronshausen on Prevention and Education

Amy Ronshausen is the Deputy Director of Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.), national nonprofit organizations that work to defeat drug legalization attempts, promote sound drug policies, and prevent drug abuse and addiction.

Mrs. Ronshausen also serves as the Executive Director for the Florida Coalition Alliance, representing over 30 community anti-drug coalitions. Freedom spoke with Amy at her office in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Amy Ronshausen

How medical is medical marijuana?

They put the word “medical” in front of the word “marijuana.” They want to legalize weed, just the same kind of drug that you would buy in the street—that’s what they want to legalize as a medicine.

In the DFAF literature I notice the term “crude marijuana.”

We use that because that’s really the only way to explain the difference. Because they’ve put this word “medical” in front of it, everybody just assumes that this marijuana must not be the pot that I could buy on the streets.

Nobody is denying that there aren’t components of the plant that have medicinal promise. It’s just that we don’t legislate medicine and we don’t use the whole plant. Just like cocaine—dentists’ medications derived from cocaine. A dentist has never told somebody, “go home and snort a bomb and call me in the morning.” It shouldn’t be any different with marijuana.

You seem to work well with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

We’re both all about prevention and education. We partner with Drug-Free World on a lot of issues that basically are like-minded. Both organizations are looking to prevent drug abuse; both organizations do a lot of education around different drugs. Drug-Free World has created some really great materials, specifically on different drugs in these little packets. It’s a ready-made resource that we can use because we are all about not reinventing the wheel.

There must be thousands of drug prevention/education organizations. What makes you different?

We are more of a force multiplier, if you will. We engage everybody on these different issues and act as a vessel to share our many resources. For example, Drug-Free World might be having a conference where they want to talk about how marijuana impacts the brain. They might need some other speakers. They call me. Or they might just say, “Where are some websites I can go to, to find this information?” And I can send them five different websites.

Is a “recommendation” for legal marijuana what they call a prescription?

No, they can’t have a prescription because it’s not a real medicine. They would bring in their “recommendation” and this is where they would purchase their edibles and their pot and their paraphernalia to do it. Google “pot shops on Venice Beach” if you want to see what these things look like. It’s not a pharmacy. It won’t look like CVS, I promise.

A lot of times these are cash-only businesses. We find that they just bring more harm to a community than good. They’re open at odd hours, sometimes. There are people coming in from other states. It’s like what we have with the pill mills, just replace a pill mill with a pot shop. You’ve got somebody charging $300 for a recommendation [and saying] “Oh, and guess what, I sell it right here on site, so you can buy your pot right here.” Not the typical way the United States of America does medicine by any stretch of the imagination. These shops, let’s face it, are there to make money. They’re profiting off addiction. They’re going to want to snag you when you’re young so that you can be a lifelong user. Our youth are inundated with pro-drug messages—that marijuana is not harmful.