I’m upset by recent comments from the U.S. Drug Czar. As many of you know, Washington and Colorado recently voted in measures to legalize marijuana in both states. This was a large step in the direction to ending some of the most destructive policies our nation has embarked upon in the past century. It was a large step for the effort to end drug crime and related violence in America. It was even a large step in taking power away from the Mexican drug cartels that have wreaked havoc upon the nation (over 50,000 murders in 5 years), while spreading some of that violence throughout the American south. This large step had to take yet another step backwards when we learned that the federal government will “continue to see enforcement against distributors and large-scale growers as the Justice Department has outlined” in those two states.
We at Glancing Out strongly support the end to the ‘war on drugs.’ This war has cost us billions upon billions of dollars, has led to the greatest prison population this world has ever seen, and is causing tremendous sorts of human suffering. Many of the problems with drugs that we face today are not from the drugs themselves, but from the drug policies. One example includes the rampant poverty and petty criminals that run the streets. Many of these criminals are drug addicts with nowhere to go to cure their sickness other than the criminal drug dealers (I’m not referring to marijuana here, as we will see that shouldn’t even be mentioned in this so called war). Drug dealers are the last people we need addicts to turn to when they need mental support. The addicts pay extremely high prices for drugs that they feel they need. These prices are inflated by the flourishing black market. Addicts cannot supply their habit with any kind of salary due to these prices (unless you work on Wall Street), so they turn to crime. This is the life of the street running drug addict. Now, we don’t need to have this situation. We could be taking a more treatment based approach, while decriminalizing or legalizing some or all of the drugs. A treatment based approach would allow addicts and problem users to seek out real help, help that they currently avoid out of fear of going to prison. Prison isn’t helping them either. Once in prison, you have a greater chance of BECOMING a drug addict yourself rather than being helped.
We will get to more of that in the future, but for the sake of this post, any such change in our drug policies has to begin with vast changes to marijuana laws. Two states have made the effort, supported by the will of the people, and they must be allowed to continue what they are doing. As I said, marijuana shouldn’t even be placed in the same sentence with other illegal drugs. It has no addictive properties, has been shown to be beneficial for health, and has been shown that it could even replace many of the dangerous, addictive prescription medications. It is much less of a problem than alcohol is, both in terms of health and behavior. Alcohol is disastrous for human health if abused, and problem users tend to become more violent. Marijuana has been shown to have an opposite effect in both instances. Given this, I don’t see any reason that marijuana should not be regulated in the same light as alcohol. If anything, alcohol should have HEAVIER regulations placed on it than marijuana.
The best thing that the Obama administration and the Drug Czar could do at this point is what the majority of Americans also believe, leave the states alone!! America is built upon experimentation in the states. Nothing could go wrong with allowing these two states to test out this idea. I’m convinced that the experiment would prove successful, and many states will follow. The ONLY people that benefit from our current drug policies are the government agencies (increased funding to drug enforcement) and the criminals (who make insane profits through the black market). A change in drug policy can solve more than one problem. We can cut into the deficit by reducing spending on prisons and law enforcement, and it would of course greatly improve crime. As they said in “The Wire,” police can get back to doing real police work.