From the Mexican mobs to the physical degeneration of meth addicts and the loss of livelihood potential that goes with being incarcerated, most of our current drug-war problems are due to the war and not the drugs.
We’ll not be free of this albatross of a drug war until we declare victory. Yes, we will have losers like we have with alcohol, but we seem to have them already and the war compounds their losses. Criminal-quality drugs and criminal laws wreak far more destruction than unadulterated drugs and laws that target how you behave with your fellow citizens. Laws about driving while impaired don’t stop drunks, but they give us a way to address their individual self-control problems without arresting all the bar patrons at once.
The proper sources for bad habits and redemption from them are businesses. Establishments to which we can return if the contents do not match the labels, the treatments do not treat, and/or the taxes do not flow forth, and remove them from the supply chain.
This will require a certain amount of self-control, but we humans largely seem up to it. Nicotine is the most addictive drug known and alcohol is a readily available mind-altering drug, but the majority of the population does not smoke or have problems with alcohol.
Wiles is secretary of the Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma.
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