ISSUE: War on Drugs — It doesn’t Seem to be Working

Legal and illegal drug use in the USA is at an all time high. It seems that the only real impact from the War on Drugs is the monopoly it creates for drug dealers, gangs, and drug lords — allowing them to earn an enormous amount of money and power. Is this really a surprise? Reduce the supply chain and the drug prices spike. Those that first corner the illegal market generally keep it by dominating it with their ill gotten gains, corrupt government officials, and man power.

Drugs make gangs incredible rich and powerful giving them a strong incentive to ravish our schools and neighborhoods so they can gain even more territory, more users, and more gang members.

I really do feel sorry for those who become addicted to drugs — this includes alcohol. No matter your age, social class, gender or religion — drugs are very unforgiving and destroy lives of those who use and those around them. I feel bad for the men, woman and children that overdose or die in drug related accidents.  I feel bad for the family and friends that are left behind wondering what they could have done differently to intervene in the drug death spiral.

It’s a vicious cycle that needs to end.

The Current Proposed Solution

For around 40 years or so we have been engaged in the so called War on Drugs. How’s that been going? Not so good, I’d say. We still have a huge epidemic with drug use and addiction. Central American countries have all but been taken over by powerful drug lords and gangs. Our schools have become ground zero for brutal gang turf wars.

Is a strong military styled war on drugs the only option? I hope not, because as it stands, it is not working.

My Simple-ton plan:

It seems to me that we have two choices: 1) continue to embrace the war on drugs, or 2) legalize and heavily regulate and tax drugs.

I know the argument, legalizing drugs will only encourage more drug use; it will create more drug addicts; it will ravage our children.

Growing up in a small town in Oregon, I can attest to the fact that drugs of any kind are easily accessible. If you are inclined to use drugs, you can get them. The only thing that a prohibition on drugs accomplishes is making huge profits margins for drugs lords, gangs, and a few corrupt government officials. And because illegal drugs are unregulated, drug overdose and/or poisoning from foreign ingredients is common.

By legalizing all drugs, we can generate enormous amount of tax revenue. This money MUST be earmarked for drug education, treatments, research, mental health and law enforcement.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some researcher would discover a medication that would completely eliminate all pleasurable effects of a drug. If a drug provided no positive reinforcement for the user, would he/she really want to use it? NO. And this isn’t so far fetch. Narcan (naloxone) is an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, including respiratory depression. One can only imagine if this technology could be refined and deployed using a microchip implant that doles out the medication overtime to eliminate all effects of the drug…well that would give any addict a fighting chance.

My wish list:

  1. Strict sales and use laws would be put in place before legalizing recreational use of drugs.
  2. USA pharma companies would be licensed to produce the drugs for recreation.
  3. The drugs would only be distributed through state or federally controlled “Drug Stores” — similar to hard liquor stores in Oregon.
  4. Tax revenue generated from the legal sales of drugs would only be used for drug education/prevention, treatments, research, mental health and law enforcement.
  5. Anyone determined to be a nuance user, i.e., homeless due to addiction, habitual public nuisance, a danger to those around them, etc. would be placed in therapy and put on a “future” anti-abuse drug that would eliminate the impulse to use drugs. (This is different than Antabuse.)

In additional to drug education/prevention, we also need to develop a strong mental health support system. I believe most addicted users didn’t start as recreational users looking to have a good time, but rather used drugs to self medicate and mask the pain of abuse, PTSD, trauma, etc. We must be able to intervene before they search out ways to distort their realties. It seems to me early intervention is much more effective that dealing with an addict.