The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.
Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.
This 40-year campaign has brought a stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs for recreation or therapeutic purposes.
After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.
Despite being legalized for medical use in more than half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties and is highly addictive.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is also preventing people from being able to receive a medical treatment that–proven by the minimal science there is–that works for them.
Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this. The furthest along in this medical study is MDMA-assisted therapy assisting those who have severe traumas or post-traumatic stress disorder that has been immune to other treatments. It is in its final trials before going to the Food and Drug Administration.
The Drug War in the United States also began the sharp spiking of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.
I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought into the idea that drug use or drug addiction are a criminal issue; people believing that people who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.
Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently. We must focus more on education and harm reduction than on incarcerations and punishments.
We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.
“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically.
Now is the time to change the way we handle this.
This column was edited and republished by the original author.
This column was originally published in the independent student publication, the BG News,on March 20, 2017 which can be found here.