Friday, February 28, 2014

How's That War On Drugs Coming Along, Anyway?

I got into a lengthy debate with a friend of mine a couple years ago on the topic of legalizing marijuana.  I was for it; she was against it.  My argument was basically that weed doesn't seem any worse to me than alcohol (I don't partake of either, personally) and so, if one's legal, the other should be, too.  I also pointed out how many people were ruined for life because of the single crime of possessing grass in relatively small quantities, especially under "War on Drugs" laws such as "3 Strikes."  I'm all for dangerous criminals being locked up, but wanting to get high seems no more deserving of jail time to me than wanting to get drunk (again: I have no wish to do either).  And if downing a few beers was enough to put you behind bars, most of the people I know would have criminal records today.

Anyway, recent trends in Canada and the U.S. have definitely moved in the direction of legalization of pot.  I see this as a positive development, though I know not everyone feels that way.  However, Vicki brought my attention to a recent article in which the topic is examined in much more detail than anything I could come up with.  One aspect of it particularly struck me, which is how utterly ineffective the "War on Drugs" has been in reducing the addiction rate in the States.  They show a graph (reproduced below) with a blue line indicating the addiction rate and a green line representing how much money has been spent on the effort.  Missing, I suppose, is the incarceration rate, which has skyrocketed in the U.S. thanks to severe laws aimed at deterring drug use but ultimately only serving to make the privatized prison system in America ridiculously profitable.  Anyway, here's the graph:

Like gay marriage, this is another social transformation that I believe is headed in the right direction at long last.

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