Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The world is beginning to look at drugs in a new way; we rest at the precipice of a revolution in drug legislation. More countries than ever are in agreement that the war on drugs has been a total failure creating an unstoppable monster. There is no question as to whether or not drugs play a huge role in the destruction of lives; the way in which drug offenders are policed and treated like second class citizens plays an even more devastating part. The best defense against drug addiction is education and the best defense against traffickers is less demand. Heavy fines and imprisonment only throw fuel on an already out of control fire. The argument that drugs are bad for you and that punishment is the only solution is not holding as much water as it once did. Countries around the world are focusing less on policing drug use; more emphasis is being placed on regulation and education.
Basically, it works like this: the illegal nature of drugs has caused the price of drugs to increase to the point where an addict needs to be rich to afford their addiction, addicts are forced to commit criminal acts like robbery and prostitution in order to compensate for their lack of inheritance, addicts break the law while getting high and they break the law while acquiring the money to afford the high. It's a vicious circle that usually ends tragically; the war on drugs has created a vacuum that traps addicts into a life where the only option is death or jail. I read an interesting article by Chris Middendorp who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald. Dealing with the subject, he made a good point: this is not about morals or laws, but, the overall welfare of human beings that should be the focus. "In several Latin American countries and in mainland Europe, legislators have already brought about significant reforms in drug policy in recent times. This has not involved an open-slather legalisation of drugs, but the decriminalisation of personal possession and use. Most famously, in 2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs - from heroin to cocaine - and, to many people's surprise, overall drug use actually fell. In Switzerland, giving addicts free heroin in supervised clinics has been deemed a success, with begging, prostitution, homelessness and burglary all dropping dramatically. A national referendum in 2008 voted overwhelmingly to retain the program, which began as a trial in 1994".
America is on the verge of joining the mindset that the drugs are not the problem - we are. If money that was spent on policing drugs was diverted towards regulation and education it would be a big step forward. Not to mention that that is the only way we will ever deal a severe blow upon the drug cartels. Obama realizes that the war on drugs has been a failure and that we need to handle this differently; this could change everything, for years the USA has set many trends worldwide as far as a zero tolerance on drugs goes. If the United States takes a different route than many other countries would follow.