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Surprisingly, Donald Trump’s recent speech to the United Nations was not an attempt to brag about his “achievements” as president. Instead, the focus was on reigniting the dying flames of the failed War on Drugs. Since its height in the 1980s and early 90s, the War on Drugs has become an increasingly unsuccessful and unpopular policy effort to deter people from using certain prohibited substances.
Research from our own country, as well as evidence collected from countries like Portugal that have more reasonable drug policies, make it clear that just criminalizing substances will never stop people from seeking them out or selling them. Instead, all it does is create intense distrust between citizens and law enforcement and create an entire subclass of citizens that other people view as less than.
Donald Trump has repeatedly praised authoritarian approaches to drug policy, going so far as to claim that President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has done a great job on drug policy by effectively authorizing the summary execution of those accused of drug use, addiction, or trafficking. Given Trump’s support of a death sentence for those with opioid addiction in another country, his desire to push for greater weaponization in the War on Drugs is concerning, to say the least.
Our founder, Diane Fornbacher, wants Trump and other politicians to understand how foolish the existing approach has become.
“A call to ‘re-weaponize’ the so-called drug war is not a policy rooted in a sensible approach. What is referred to as a ‘drug war’ is very much a war on people. The United States is already the country with the most people incarcerated, namely low-level, first-time drug offenders. It is well beyond time to approach drug policy with compassion as well as sensibility. Instead of pitting our citizens against one another from police to civilians, we need to dismantle the drug war. We can start by legalizing drugs, implementing harm reduction policies, dissolving asset forfeiture practices, and reducing recidivism by not arresting people for victimless crimes in the first place as well as putting programs in place to uplift our people rather than incarcerating them.”
As a business person, you would think that Donald Trump could recognize the intense potential that legalized cannabis markets could have for the country, to say nothing of psychedelic substances and other currently prohibited drugs. Unfortunately, he has chosen instead to double down on the War on Drugs, adding increasingly dangerous and violent rhetoric to a conversation that has only recently become sane and tolerant.
In order to reduce addiction, our country and our whole race need to take steps to address the underlying mental health issues that contribute to addiction. We must also address social factors that contribute to cycles of addiction in communities and families. Simply creating more penalties or new programs to catch people will never win the War on Drugs.
The only way to win this war is by agreeing to a ceasefire and taking steps to mitigate any future damage caused by irrational and nonsensical drug policies in the United States. After all, as Trump’s speech shows, our country will apparently want to continue pushing other countries to copy our approach to prohibited substances for the foreseeable future. It should at least be policy based on social science and human decency.
For previous Ladybud articles about the failed War on Drugs, click here.