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Roadmap for America


The Drug War: Part IV Legalization vs. De-criminalization




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David P. Price, PhD is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

January 20, 2010 | 2,435 views | 2 comments

As we have discussed for a number of weeks, our Drug War has not only failed, but made the situation inexorably worse. Those who cling to the Ignorance of Power refuse to admit this, but they are incapable of dealing with the real world. The reality of our Drug War is the largest prison population in the world and the greatest drug use.

As we encounter a drug user, rather than approach the problem objectively, we just make drug possession a crime. In some cases we look away, but in many cases we put them in prison. As we have discussed before, the human psyche is hard wired with a sense of justice. If someone is engaging in self-destructive behavior and hurting no one else, they innately believe they are not doing anything “wrong”.

Put them in prison and they feel victimized. They may not have been violent when they went in, but prisons are caldrons of violence. The entire prison social hierarchy is determined by violence. Put someone in prison guilty of nothing more than self-destructive behavior and force them to associate with real criminals, and they themselves will become criminals. This is partially responsible for why our system has made the situation much worse.

Portugal decriminalized drugs and has actually reduced drug use. How? By treating drug use objectively (which we haven’t done).

At this point I want to discuss de-criminalization vs. legalization which many people lump together as synonymous. They are not. They are two completely different concepts.

Legalization is just that. California is considering the legalization of marijuana but they are not thinking about the social aspects. They are just thinking about all the tax revenue that can be generated.

Myself I am not comfortable recommending the legalization of any drug, but will be the first to admit this would pull the rug out from under the criminal gangs. This is the quickest way to stop the criminal activity peripheral to drug use. (Legislation in defense of morality always carries more risks than benefits.)

What I favor is the Portuguese system, where drug users are still mandated to court. But instead of being sent to prison, they pay civil fines. The fines go to pay for counseling and treatment. Instead of you and I paying $30,000/yr. to keep each one in prison, they largely pay for their own treatment.

This is an objective way to deal with drug use. It does not address the hypocrisy of our system (which we will discuss next time), but it can and does reduce drug use. This is the real problem, which we have failed to recognize through the forty-year history of our Drug War.
 
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Your Opinions and Comments

 
Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
January 24, 2010 9:54am
 
"The reality of our Drug War is the largest prison population in the world and the greatest drug use." How about some qualification, a reference to some known factual study, some tiny fraction of evidence to support ... More ›

 
Ken Semlinger  
Poth, TX  
January 21, 2010 10:11am
 
And what do we do to those users who can't or won't pay the fines? The worst abusers are those who commit crimes to support their habits, do they have the money to pay fines? This is a thorny problem and our current solution ... More ›

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