Giving people drugs reduces drug abuse - In the 1980s, a wave of drug use swept through the western world, infiltrating communities with cocaine, crack, and heroin. Initially, most countries responded by trying to clamp down on the drug trade. They ramped up policing efforts, made more arrests, and tried to scare people with harsher prison sentencing.
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But deterrence backfired. In most cases, attempting to push the drug trade underground only made it more resilient and caused it to proliferate.
Portugal was hit particularly hard. In the 1980s, it’s estimated that one out of ten Portuguese used heroin. They had a public health crisis on their hands.
In fact, drug use was so rampant that the Portuguese realized that they didn’t have the resources to fight it. Instead, they were going to have to find some other strategy. So they took the opposite route as most of the world: they decriminalized drug use and rather than spending money on imprisoning addicts, they used it to open clinics where addicts could come and use in a safe environment. They staffed these clinics with doctors, nurses, counselors, and therapists. They treated drug addiction as a public health problem rather than a crime problem.
The policy was incredibly controversial at the time. People were afraid that, given access to free drugs, people would go off the rails. Drug tourism would flood into the country. Civilization as they knew it would cease to function.
But you already know where this is going… the opposite happened. Crime dropped. Overdoses dropped. Overall drug use dropped.
It turns out that drug addicts don’t really like being drug addicts (I know: shocker). It turns out that when offered help, most people will eventually take it. It turns out that addiction is not a failure of willpower or character but rather a coping mechanism for emotional strife and trauma. Offer people an outlet to heal the emotional pain and the substance no longer seems necessary to them.
It’s a dynamic that plays itself out in all sorts of dimensions: when something is framed as a moral failing — people double down on it. If you’re going to tell me I’m a bad person because I use drugs, then fuck you, I’ll just use more. But when drug use is framed as a health issue, then most people are more likely to seek and accept help.
Harsher prison sentences encourage more crime - Unlike Portugal, the United States responded to the drug wave of the 80s by doing our favorite thing: declaring war. Man, we got wars for everything. We got wars on terrorism, racism, poverty, and the war on drugs. We never win any of the wars, of course. But that would spoil the fun! As they say, it’s all about the pursuit, not the destination, right? The War on Drugs has stretched for almost four decades and filled our prison system to the point of overflowing.
The US has 4.25% of the world’s population yet we house 21% of its prisoners. We house more prisoners than China and Russia combined. That’s because almost half of these prisoners are there due to extremely high penalties for drug offenses. Yet, do these penalties prevent drug use?
No, in fact, hard drug use continues to rise. Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of long prison sentences as a form of deterrence of crime. Most of these studies have simply found that prisons don’t work. Some studies have even found that they have the opposite effect — that is, the longer someone spends in prison, the more likely they are to commit crimes once they get out. Doesn’t take a friggin’ rocket scientist to figure out why that might be. The longer someone is in prison, the less opportunities available to them upon getting ou
t. Thus making it more likely that they have to resort to doing the one thing they do know: crime. So, if prison time doesn’t reduce crime, what does? Education. Not only does improving the quality of schools and education in a community reduce the crime rate there, but giving prisoners an opportunity to complete their education while in prison reduces recidivism.
And it does so to the point that these programs could potentially pay for themselves because they would reduce the prison population so much over the long term. Yet, this is a hard pill to swallow. When we see someone doing something wrong, our human instinct is vengeance. It’s punishment.
Why would we reward someone with opportunity after they’ve harmed their community? Well, it’s simple — so they won’t harm their community again. Yes, these people hurt us. But clinging to our sense of vengeance is hurting us as well. As Martin Luther King famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It’s time to stop denying the dark side of our nature. We’re all sick twisted fucks to some extent.
The denial of that fact only encourages more destruction. It’s only by accepting it that we can bring it into the light. Until next week. Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay healthy. Mark
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John Bellamy Comments:
In London many years ago one borough relaxed the police iniative and allowed people to smoke dope in the bars etc. for a short period to see how it went.
After 3 months they claimed that so many people were smoking it had to be stopped.
What these dim wits never said was that as it was only one area that had relaxed the rules, smokers came from all over London to enjoy a night out and a smoke without the hassles involved, and had this scheme been rolled out universally, the numbers would have gone down , like in Amsterdam where numbers of drugs went down after the law was relaxed and NOT UP - as some will claim.
Many who speak on the subject of drugs do so from an ill informed position of ignorance and fear. They drink - BOY do they drink - and will defent alcohol to the end of the world and will never admit that it kills and harms multiple tens of thousands each year while drug problems pale into the background compared to the problems facing society by booze.
The bonly difference, alcohol is taxed. POure and simple. It all comes down to bad education, BAD EDUCATION - and money - what the government can make out of anything - nregardless if it is deadly, as long as they get thir cut.
THE ILLEGAL SEX AND DRUG TRADES IN THE UK ARE PART OF THIS COUNTRIES G.D.P.
Hundreds of millions of £.
Hypocrits - absolute hypocrits.
Drugs are not the problem. Alcohol is the problem - by far.