The misguided war on drugs – why it cannot work

Portugal legalized the use of all drugs 10 years ago and used the money that had been used to criminal drugs to increase drug treatment programs. Selling narcotics and cocaine, etc., is still illegal.

What was the result on levels of addiction and crime? The crime rate dropped dramatically and so did the number of addicts as people were able to obtain drug addiction treatment. Those who committed crimes on drugs were pushed into drug treatments programs.

Mexico legalized use all drugs a year or two ago also. Drugs are now like alcohol – you can get a charge for driving impaired, giving drugs to minors, committing crimes while on drugs, but possession just gives you a ticket and if you get several tickets you must obtain drug addiction treatment. (I am not 100% sure of the details as to how people are steered into treatment).

Mexico is hoping this will take the profit out of drugs and reduce the crime rate. The problem is that the users are Americans not just Mexicans. Therefore, unless the U.S. takes the same road and treats drug addiction as a disease and public health issue instead of as a crime, the Mexican experiment won’t work – it may just increase violence as the cartels try to move more drugs into the U.S. and obtain more weapons in the U.S.

It is also notable that after the U.S. made a law causing drug possession to be illegal in the U.S. around 1914, the crime rate dramatically increased. Also remember that when alcohol was made illegally the crime rate dramatically increased and when it was legalized the crime rate dropped.

Criminalization of drugs may actually increase addiction and crimes resulting from drug use.

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