About a week ago Speaker Ryan talked about the importance of the border in preventing Heroin from entering the United States and today the President spoke, in his inaugural address, about inner-cities infected with the scourge of drugs. Both statements misunderstand the Drug Problem in out country at a fundamental level.
Speaker Ryan, with due respect, the prime movers in the Heroin Crisis are as follows:
- The Marketing, Messaging, and Incentives the pharmaceutical industry uses to normalize and standardize the prescription of highly addictive opioids for the treatment of pain.
- Strict Enforcement of laws that prevent people who have become addicted to opioids from either getting legal alternatives or engaging in harm reduction programs. Being shut-off from legal alternatives for addressing physical addiction, people turn to the lowest cost street alternative (at this point Heroin).
Let me also remind both Speaker Ryan (and the President) that interdiction approaches have never (ever) removed drugs from American streets. No matter how many drug busts you show on television, no matter how many Latin American states you destabilize, at the end of the day, all the Drug War does is increase demand, increase the violence, and increase the price of narcotics.
No matter how many drug busts you show on television, no matter how many Latin American states you destabilize, at the end of the day, all the Drug War does is increase demand, increase the violence, and increase the price of narcotics.
There is ZERO evidence, and I have been reading studies since the early 90’s, that the War on Drugs has any positive safety effects on our society, on the supply of drugs in the United States, or on the number of people using drugs in the United States.
Mr. President, there are three things that primarily caused the crisis in the inner-cities in the United States:
- White Flight
- The War on Drugs
- The “Tough on Crime” crackdown which started under Reagan and continued under William Jefferson Clinton.
White flight took capital out of America’s inner cities, The War on Drugs created and accelerated an alternative and violent path to wealth for the poor, and tough on crime measures resulted in an incarceration genocide that neither eradicated crime or made the inner-cities safe.
Doubling down on these approaches, and engaging in a worldwide drug war, did not end drugs or fix the inner-cities in the 80’s or in the 90’s and it will not fix the inner cities now.
I hope that you will avail yourself of the mountains of evidence suggesting that continuing or reinvesting in conventional War on Drugs approaches to narcotics have zero chance of success.
Ending the War on Drugs may seem like a radical idea, but it is the only chance of ending the enforced depopulation of our inner-cities. Regulating the marketing of opioids and creating legal alternatives to heroin (harm reduction programs for addicts) may not seem politically popular, but they are the only chance we have of ending the Heroin Crisis in America.
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