I’m tired of reading about the drug crisis, even though I am relieved to see Trump is taking credit for the fight against opioid abuse.
Anyone with half a brain can figure out that all the hand-wringing and media hype is exactly that—hype. Nothing is going to change as long as there are practicing addicts. Nothing is going to change as long as there are immense profits to be made from drugs and from addiction, and by Big Pharm, pain clinics and doctors whose understanding of the Hippocratic Oath is at best spotty. We are still acting as if interdiction works, when, after billions of dollars wasted trying to eradicate and interdict other drugs (cocaine, heroin, meth, marijuana, alcohol, among them) our dependence on drugs keeps growing.
Addiction is a disease. Might as well try to outlaw cancer.
For years now I’ve been saying that the only way we will ever get a handle on the drug issue is to legalize everything. Everything… Legalize, oversee, and tax. Imagine the billions of dollars of income from taxing what are now illegal drugs. Imagine how such moneys could be used to train counselors and set up free or minimal-cost rehabs for anyone wanting to quit. Imagine, as well, how legalizing drugs would change the political systems in Central and South America, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the other Stans responsible for growing and exporting deadly drugs mostly to the US. Imagine Russia’s loss of income once the market price of dugs collapses. Putinland might go bankrupt.
We would cut the cost of caring for addicts. We would no longer see our swamped hospital emergency rooms dealing with the ravages of addiction and drug-related gang wars. We would free law enforcement from the thankless task of busting users and dealers big or small, and officers of the law could return to preventing and solving real crimes, those of hate, violence, and human abuse. We would relieve the overcrowding of prisons and free the judiciary from having to adjudicate the hundreds of thousands of drug trafficking offenses tried annually. Drugs could be made purer and therefore less dangerous. The petty crimes committed by desperate addict would end. Big pharm would be happy and might be encouraged to devote more funds to researching cures for other, equally devastating illnesses.
We could, in less than one generation, completely change the world.
The downside? There would be a massive die-off as hardcore addicts perish quickly instead of slowly from having access to limitless drugs. This might be avoided somewhat by implementing a rescue system for those who, though they might deem themselves almost beyond help, retain a glimmer of hope. Programs already in place that are both non-punitive and non-judgmental would benefit from an infusion of funds. Think education, think training, think hope and healing, not coercion, force or fear.
I’ve been on both sides of the drug issue. I know for a fact that telling an addict to stop using drugs is akin to telling a clinically depressed person to have a nice day. It doesn’t work. Legalizing drugs would.