A new Huffington Post article by Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance will take you through the ten major arguments against US drug policy and its war on drugs.
He makes many of the same criticisms that the Beckley Foundation and other advocates of reform have previously identified, and describes the growing need for a new approach characterised by harm reduction rather than eradication, education and rehabilitation rather than criminalisation, and a greater respect for human rights.
The war on drugs is America’s longest war. It has been 40-plus years since Nixon launched our modern “war on drugs” and yet drugs are as plentiful as ever. While the idea we can have a “drug free society” is laughable, the disastrous consequences of our drug war are dead serious. While it might not be obvious, the war on drugs touches and destroys so many of the issues we care about and values we hold.
The war on drugs has consistently failed to reduce supply or use of drugs worldwide, let alone achieve total eradication. Instead, it has only made room for an incredibly lucrative, unregulated market under the control of dangerous criminals, and has left whole nations locked in bloodshed and corruption.
Even without considering the international implications of US drug policy, the consequences within its own borders are dire. Wanton incarceration, racial injustice, and a growing HIV/AIDS public health disaster (caused in part by a stubborn refusal to fund needle exchanges) are all direct consequences of the USA choosing to make a misguided moral point above helping its citizens to lead decent lives.
There were encouraging signs for US drug policy in 2012, such as the legalisation of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado, but these ten arguments remind us all just how far the United States has to go. With any luck, 2013 will bring a new approach.