Drug Wars are a Social Health Menace

Many people know how the drug war has affected them personally, or those close to them. Less attention is focused on the insidious impact of drug enforcement on society as a whole. A new initiative by the Drug Policy Alliance called ‘Uprooting the Drug War,’ seeks to expose the damage caused by drug wars beyond the usual mass of arrests and incarcerations:

“Even as there is growing momentum for treating drug use as a matter of personal and public health, the systems on which we would normally rely to advance an alternative approach are infested with the same culture of punishment as the criminal legal system and have operated with relative impunity. Today, we expose those systems and their role in fueling drug war policies and logic that compound the harms suffered by people who use drugs and people who are targeted by drug war enforcement,” said Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance [DPA]. “Ending the drug war in all its vestiges is critical to improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities….”

…at Uprooting the Drug War, …analysis of six different systems through first-hand stories, data spotlights, and reports … take a deep dive into how drug war policies have taken root and created grave harm in the fields of education, employment, housing, child welfare, immigration, and public benefits. […]

An exposé of drug war social harms is important, but it doesn’t address a key issue needed to scale down the war and end it. What about all the federal, state and municipal employees whose income and livelihood depends on the continuation of current drug policies? President Biden or Congress needs to provide prohibitionists with a parachute—something that allows them to retire early or easily transfer to another line of work. Failing this, the drug war’s labor force is set to continue to act in every way possible to preserve their jobs up until they retire.

Prohibitionists still retain influential and powerful drug war allies, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Chuck Grassley. The two senators recently introduced a bill, HEN21186, that among other things allows a redundant relic of the drug war, the federal cannabis farm in Mississippi, to continue its operations at taxpayer expense, effectively retaining prohibitionists in the federal loop. Ending the drug war will require targeting it from all directions.

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