For one thing, the War on Drugs was dishonestly based on a blatantly racist agenda from the start – I mean, from the Nixon Admin, before “War on Drugs” was even a phrase. From Dan Baum’s April cover story in Harper’s:
N.B.: The government of the Netherlands does not take a simply libertarian ain’t-nobody’s-business-if-you-do approach to all drugs. It does consider drug abuse a problem – but a public-health problem, not a crime problem. Therefore, you may not simply buy or sell heroin like you can buy or sell heroin, but addicts can get heroin from the government under careful supervision. Well, why not? In the U.S., heroin addicts can get methadone from the government under careful supervision – the only difference is that methadone satisfies the biochemical addiction-craving without getting the user high, or stoned, or whatever you call the psychoactive effects of a heroin dose. I don’t see how that’s any better, it seems to merely a case of American pleasure-denying puritanism.
Portugal, OTOH, apparently is taking a simply libertarian approach. And the results appear to be just as good as in the Netherlands.
I see it as more of a what-the-hell thing. AIUI, heroin users – and users of opiates generally – can be very high-function people if they have access to a steady and cheap supply of the drug (and if they’re sensible enough not to fix before going to work); it is mainly the social conditions under which they must feed their habit that make them losers.
Nothing of the sort. If methadone therapy is intended to satisfy the craving for opiates but the addict is still engaged in crime in order to get the high they want, the criminal/general destructive behavior is not solved.
I’m not necessarily against decriminalization of drugs but I don’t think just throwing the doors open is the best way to do it.
Fine, then let’s do it the Dutch way, not the Portuguese way. But at any rate we should be trying to learn something from foreign examples here (and a great many elswheres, but that’s another discussion).
My wife & daughter both work for a non-profit that provides methadone treatment.
It is supplied to keep the addicts from suffering from withdrawal, not to satisfy cravings. By the time the addicts hit the program, the high is not the object of shooting up - avoiding the agony of lack of opiates is.
The experience of HAT - Heroin Assisted Therapy in Switzerland is instructive.
And any reform effort should begin with recognizing that fact.
OTOH, cocaine is not only a public-health problem – the illegal U.S. market for it keeps the Latin American drug cartels in business, with disastrous social and political consequences there and here, and far worse there, and I can think of no way to drive them out of business short of full decriminalization.
I doubt marijuana is much of a problem in that regard – coca plants can only be grown in the South American highlands, but hemp can grow almost anywhere, including here. Look for the Union Label!
There was a news story recently that the flow of MJ from Mexico was quickly slowing and may even reverse. It seems that marijuana grown in the US is much higher quality than that grown south of the border. Credit this to medical marijuana mainly, although the legalization in several states helps.
Uruguay has a state-run marijuana industry, apparently. (In general, Latin American countries are increasingly moving in the direction of liberalizing on drugs, and calling for more widespread legalization).