ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

American Opinion: We can't surrender in war on drugs

Summary:

Police lights
Police lights.
Dreamstime/TNS
We are part of The Trust Project.

The war on drugs has been long, hard-fought, and expensive.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Recent American Opinion editorials.
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.

Since the 1970s, America has battled wave after wave of new, more lethal drugs hitting our streets — from crack cocaine to heroin, crystal meth, OxyContin, fentanyl and synthetics, to name a few. The Centers for Disease Control puts the death by opioid overdose tally at nearly 500,000 people from 1999 to 2019.

There are those who would declare the war over, that the drugs have won and surrender the only option.

They are wrong.

Proponents of decriminalizing drugs often point to Portugal as a model. In 2001, the country became the first to decriminalize drugs. As Time reported, drug dealers still go to prison. But anyone caught with less than a 10-day supply of any drug is typically sent to a local commission, consisting of a doctor, lawyer and social worker, where they learn about treatment and available medical services.

ADVERTISEMENT

Portugal has government-funded health care for its citizens, and reportedly took two years to put together the new system where drug abuse became a medical issue rather than a criminal one.

Oregon learned the hard way that preparation and funding are key when it looked to Portugal at its own decriminalization launch in 2021.

Supporters of decriminalization faced a fractured, dysfunctional and underfunded treatment system that wasn’t at all ready to handle an influx of more people seeking treatment, as NPR reported.

The Massachusetts Legislature has also entertained decriminalization. Called “An Act relative to harm reduction and racial equality,” two bills were first introduced to both legislative bodies in March of last year, as the Herald reported. S.1277 and H.2119 both sat quietly in legislative committee until September, when lawmakers held a virtual hearing on the bills. The bills made their way through committees, before the House version was referred to a study order. That effectively ended its progress.

Those who want drug policy changed see hope in even these efforts. “The war on drugs has failed. The experience of the last few decades shows arresting and jailing people for drug use does not work,” Emily Kaltenbach, a senior director with the Drug Policy Alliance told the Herald.

“Drugs are more potent, readily available, cheaper than ever before and people are cycling through prison with zero chance of access to recovery services. The approach that Massachusetts is considering offers people a new option — a health-based approach,” she said.

Without question, getting addicts in recovery and off drugs is of primary importance.

But this particular plan has many opportunities for collateral damage.

ADVERTISEMENT

More opinion content
Recent opinion content published in the West Central Tribune.
From the commentary: Every day is a new embarrassment, not just for (George Santos) but for the Republicans in Congress.
From the commentary: It is time to recognize obesity in childhood and adolescence for the complex chronic disease that it is.
"Church worship now competes with everything from professional sports to kids activities to household chores. ... we can either have a frank conversation about what church can be, or we can continue to watch the pews empty in cherished houses of worship across the country."
From the editorial: The days of magnanimity and bipartisan compromise are over. Some people want war and seem determined to provoke it.
Editorial cartoonist Dave Granlund draws on the continuation of gun violence in America.
When Katie Pinke directed her daughter to a beef expert in preparation for her speech meet, it made her think about the need for trusted ag sources of information.
From the commentary: To be clear, their questions are mainly about determining the best way to deliver care to teens — not about the value of treatment itself.
From the commentary: Businesses are already struggling under the extraordinary cost of doing business in Minnesota.
From the editorial: First, public debt cannot safely be allowed to keep rising at the projected rate. Second, purporting to solve this problem by threatening to default on the country’s obligations is nuts.
Editorial cartoonist John Darkow draws on Joe Biden's continued classified documents discoveries.

Illegal drugs are smuggled into Massachusetts from around the world, landing in cities like Boston and Lawrence. The gangs behind this don’t limit their activity to drugs. Late last month, 10 Boston gang members and associates were convicted of racketeering, drug and firearms charges, and court records describe one Dorchester gang as involved in murders, attempted murders, armed robberies, drug trafficking and sex trafficking.

While there are those addicts who would choose treatment and get clean if drugs were decriminalized, that won’t stop dealers from looking for fresh victims.

Oregon is the bellwether: Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton has told reporters the change in the law has resulted in a spike in overdose deaths and property crimes.

We have to win this war, not desert the battle.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Boston Herald.

©2022 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at bostonherald.com . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: AMERICAN OPINION
What To Read Next
Why is it that women’s hygiene products are not offered for free in school bathrooms?
From the editorial: Although multiple New York GOP House members have urged Santos to resign, the party’s far-right House membership is pulling him into their fold. Should Americans be surprised?
From the editorial: The White House is refusing — as it should — to negotiate with this fiscal gun to its head. Negotiating with terrorists is never wise.
From the editorial: (This is another step away from true government transparency, similar to the Kandiyohi County Board's public notice decision in January to eliminate its public notice distribution to nearly 70% of the county's households. County board chair Roger Ibdieke says the county's public notices are available on its website. A Tribune reader commented on Wednesday, "My understanding is that public notices are available on the kcmn.us website. However, I was unable to find them.")