Change U.S. Drug Policy

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 in Criminal Defense | 0 comments

This country needs to reexamine its drug policies. In light of recent events in this country and abroad (which I’ll discuss in a moment), we need an across the board redefinition of what constitutes an illegal drug, what constitutes possession, and what constitutes a sale.

A number of major changes have taken place in the recent past (and continue to today) which should make us all reconsider how we look at drugs.

In the first place, several US states have taken the massive step to legalize marijuana. This change follows successful efforts in countries like the Netherlands, which decriminalized some time ago and has seen few if any adverse affects.

We need to have a law in the country that makes a definitive choice about whether marijuana should be illegal or not. Most Americans support legalization, and the positives of legalization in states like Colorado (where there’s been a great deal of job growth and tax revenue due to new marijuana-based businesses) with the limited downsides (no explosion in new users), suggest the obvious answer is legalization.

The second significant change in American culture has been the prescription drug epidemic. This is different from previous drug problems in the country for multiple reasons. First, the drugs are legal in many instances, at least when first prescribed, which makes the entire transaction harder to place in an immediate illegal category (versus the use and selling of, say, heroin, which is illegal at every step of the process). Second, the addiction is hitting new communities. Rural whites are now experiencing higher numbers of addiction than in recent decades. The old dynamic of drug addiction is a city problem, and one often associated with racial issues in this country is quickly dying.

A final point here is that the prescription drug addiction problem highlights a general hypocrisy in the way we view drugs. Drugs more powerful than heroin are handed out by doctors for routine injuries, but this is not considered illegal. Drugs more powerful than heroin are flooding our streets, but there has not been a similar crackdown as there was during, say, the crack epidemic.

What this suggests is America is perhaps ready for a more ethical, straightforward, and compassionate drug policy, one in which use is decriminalized and treatment is offered judgment-free (or as close as possible).

The successful implementation of legalized marijuana laws in Colorado and other states, and the long-term and ongoing success in countries like the Netherlands, suggests there is a road forward in which the legal consequences of use are removed, the money earned from drugs is taxed, and the use is more easily regulated in the light of day.

 

While a debate should be had over which drugs belong within the legalization category, it’s crucial for America to begin this discussion now with this ultimate goal in mind. Far too many people suffer from drug addiction without help, far too many go to jail for nonviolent crimes, and there’s far too much inconsistency in the system at the moment. Things need to change.

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