As evidence mounts and coherent arguments call for a revision of existing drug laws, GDS2014 posed a few hypothetical questions to assess what the impact of reduced penalties for the possession of small amounts of drugs might be on drug use and related behaviors.
Currently, at least 125 million people use marijuana, 14 million people use amphetamines, 12 million people use opioids, and 14 million people use cocaine. Illegal drugs have a plethora of negative impacts.
Among my colleagues in the public health and addiction fields, I am nearly alone in disliking President Obama's proposed doubling of federal cigarette taxes. My reservations stem from the hard lessons of America's policy towards illegal drugs.
Law enforcement is not blame for the actions of law-breaking addicts who are not receptive to drug treatment. You can only fault law enforcement for their inaction in protecting the public from this element.
So if you can't do away with the U.S. demand, and you can't destroy the current suppliers by legalizing the market, then what? There's a third way. Make it a lot more difficult for the drugs to enter the U.S. No, I'm not talking about U.S. military interdiction efforts.
America has locked up more than two million of its people, a higher percent of the population than comparable figures for any other country. Nearly a quarter of these prisoners are in for non-violent drug crimes. Why?
Drug use will never be completely eradicated, but that doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and do nothing. We need to get back to what should have been the goal of the War on Drugs all along: a society where drug abuse is as rare and as manageable as we can make it.