If I started a business and it was clearly failing, I would shut it down. The war on drugs has failed -- why isn't it being shut down?
As acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's latest video shows, the war on drugs has failed in every way possible. Trying to wage the war on drugs has costs the U.S. $1 trillion, with another $51 billion adding to the tally each year. This has resulted in 45 million drug related arrests, with the U.S. now jailing 2.3 million prisoners -- more people than anyone else on the planet. What has all this accomplished? "Rates of addiction remain unchanged, overdose deaths are at an all-time high and drugs cost less than ever before."
While attitudes and opinions on drug reform are dramatically shifting in the U.S. and across the world, more needs to be done. I echo Eugene's call for U.S. citizens to urge Congress to advance the Smarter Sentencing Act. This could help put an end to racial profiling, mass incarceration, shattered communities and failed policy. The Smarter Sentencing Act will save the U.S. billions of dollars, which could be spent on helping people overcome drug dependencies. It will also ease dangerous overcrowding in prisons by reducing sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
Every day, more people agree the war on drugs has failed and must change. As the Global Commission on Drug Policy has highlighted, and campaigns like Breaking The Taboo have illustrated, it's time for the rest of the world to learn from the likes of Portugal and Uruguay, and the brave steps they have taken to treat drugs as a health problem.
Politicians must listen to the people who, as Global Commission on Drug Policy research has shown, want them to find a new way. When we visited Ironwood State Prison in California recently, it was clear that everyone from the prisoners to the guards, the families to the legislators, believe the way drug problems are treated has to change.
It's time to speak out. It's time to adopt and experiment with new approaches. It's time to ask governments around the world to study the evidence and look at the harm being done by outdated drug laws. Most importantly, it's time to start thinking about and treating drug problems as a health issue, not a criminal issue.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Charlotte Street Films in support of the Smarter Sentencing Act, which aims to reduce excessive sentencing for those convicted of drug-related crimes. To watch a video supporting the bill, watch here. To support the bill, read here. To see all the other posts in the series, read here.