Monday, August 08, 2005

Drug policy reform

I'm going to reiterate what I've said many times before: Our current drug policy is absurd and moves towards decriminalization/legalization are the only solution. It's sad that this needs repeating, but most people regard the status quo is acceptable and bork at radical change.
The Edmonton Sun gives us some food for thought on drug policy:

According to the U.S. Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 people in U.S. jails for drug offences - more than all the prisoners in the European Union. Also, a U.S. report released in May noted that the war on drugs has become a "war on marijuana." Pot arrests in the U.S. increased by 113% between 1990 and 2002 while non-marijuana arrests rose by only 10%, the study by the Sentencing Project found.
The U.S. spends $4 billion a year arresting, prosecutingand incarcerating marijuana offenders.
As for pot, the price has dropped, potency has increased and use has gone up

Consider the implications of this. The European Union has 456million people and the U.S. has only 295million, yet since drug offences represent only half of all federal prisoners, this means the U.S. incarcerates twice as many people as the European Union despite having 161million less people. How do people justify such an insane situation? Prison populations are growing fast (often faster than population growth) in the US and further funding does nothing to stop the trade. Drug smugglers will do whatever (even smuggle drugs under their hair) is necessary and the authorities, given their stubborn attitude towards a change in strategy (say treatment instead of prevention), are likely to continue down the path of failure.

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