The “War on Drugs” is a term that encapsulates all of the drug prohibition policies of the US. It’s a horrible policy.
First, there is no statistical evidence that says putting people in jail for drugs reduces the total number of drug users. In fact, residents of Amsterdam smoke less than half as much weed as Americans do despite the fact that you can buy the drug in stores. Drug use rates respond to shifts in culture, not criminal policies.
Second, there’s tons of statistical evidence that show that the societal harm caused by drug criminalization is extremely high.
So if criminalization doesn’t reduce drug use within the population but it does create more societal problems, why does it continue?
Who cares! Drug policy warriors love to talk about all the problems. We need to seek solutions.
The most effective drug treatment programs convince drug addicts (people who have decided they’d rather use drugs and die than live a sober life) that they should want to live; that they can help each other survive and educate people so other don’t make the same mistakes.
The most effective way to keep kids away from drugs, a venture worthy of government resources, is to tell them true stories about drug use and addiction. Meeting a person who has destroyed his own life and the lives of those that love him because of the slippery slope of drug use is much more effective than ads that suggest that if you smoke weed, you might shoot your best friend in the face.
So… a solution: Instead of sending drug addicts to prison, send them to rehabilitation and to schools to talk to kids about drug use.
What sounds crazier?
1. Sending drug addicts to schools to talk to kids about drug use?
2. Incarcerating 750,000 non-violent drug offenders every year?
This isn’t a full scale drug policy solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The world is not insane. Balances may be hidden but they do exist. We need to seek them. We need to find solutions. Instead of talking about all the very real socio-economic correlations between drug arrests and economic opportunity let’s talk about solutions. Instead of talking about the prison-industrial complex let’s talk about solutions. Instead of complaining about how the mainstream media has failed us all, let’s come up with solutions.
When John Lennon said: “There are no problems, only solutions” he meant that discussing problems doesn’t fix them. Solutions exist. Let’s create them, then publicize them, then implement them.
The drug war will be the next civil rights issue.