Nelson, a life-long Republican, said that he believes many conservative lawmakers are beginning to come around to their view of drug policy as counter-productive to the overall goals of the drug war. "They're just waiting for when it becomes politically viable to take action," he said. "I hope that happens. It needs to."
TPJ: As usual, politicians know what that legalization would reduce crime, violence and adolescent drug use but they are too cowardly to lead because they care more about their jobs than Americans. We can look to Portugal for guidance. They decriminalized all drugs 11 years ago in response a failed drug war--not unlike the failed drug war in America. Decriminalization means it's still technically illegal but instead of going to prison, which won't solve the drug addiction, users are sent to treatment facilities.
Upon decriminalization, the crime dried up, violence was reduced and adolescent use has decreased. HIV/AIDS infections related to dirty syringe use dropped by a staggering 75% and the number of drug users held steady. American cities are slowly but surely increasing drug treatment programs instead of prison time where drugs are just as accessible as on the streets. The drug courts are showing promising signs of hope. "Between 4 and 29 percent of drug court participants in the United States will get caught using drugs again, compared with 48 percent of those who go through traditional courts" (link).
The other problem with sending drug addicts to prison is that they mingle with violent offenders and other criminals where they learn to be real criminals. Plus, it increases the prison population, which costs the tax payer more than if they were treated in the drug programs since the recidivism rates from drugs courts are so much lower than with straight imprisonment. I do think, however, that marijuana should be treated as a separate case from the hard drugs like crack, meth and heroin. Marijuana should legalized, taxed and regulated since it isn't physically addictive, doesn't cause overdoses and causes less societal problems than alcohol.
The bottom line is that the war on drugs isn't just failing, it's doing so exponentially and now the violence that we've seen in Mexico is coming here to America. We'll never stop those who want to use drugs but we can take away the criminal element by decriminalization of the hard drugs and legalization of marijuana. We can also ameliorate the health issues surrounding drug use. Plus, we can drastically reduce adolescent rates because they would have to provide identification to buy marijuana. Whereas, right now, they can go to a shady drug dealer who won't ask for identification. A growing number of Americans on the left and right understand the path ahead, but unfortunately America doesn't have "leaders" courageous enough to lead!!!
Stand up and be counted--email your leaders and tell them you want a more progressive drug policy because this current "war on drugs" has been a failure. If the politicians won't lead, then we the people must take charge.
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