One of the most surprising developments we’ve seen out of the Trump Administration has been in their drug policy. True enough, the approach to drug crime and drug addiction with the current Administration is the complete polar opposite of what the Obama Administration was trying to accomplish. In fact, the Trump Administration is taking a very pro-incarceration stance at addressing the current drug epidemic, a stance that harkens back to 1980s-era Reagan “War on Drugs” policy. For better or for worse, at least now we know the direction the new Administration is headed in.
But we have to ask, why, when the war on drugs on a national and international plane has been so ineffective for so long, why is the current Administration going in a direction that will surely fail? What is the motive here?
Some believe strongly that it is because the current Administration does not know any other way to tackle the problem other than to use a heavy-handed, law enforcement-based approach. In the words of President Trump himself:
Trump is right. The best way to stop addiction and overdose is to stop people from using drugs in the first place. However, using heavy-handed law enforcement and maximum sentencing criminal punishments is not going to achieve the desired result. Not by a long shot. Rather, the Trump Administration should focus the majority of the attention and resources they’re pooling into law enforcement programs into education and prevention programs instead.
Every three weeks, the United States endures a death toll similar to that of September Eleventh from opioid overdoses. Here are programs that the Administration should be pursuing:
These are just a few programs that could do wonders for reducing the problem, yet while the Trump Administration has mentioned some of them in passing, none have been fully explored yet. What did happen however is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his supporters pushed through a memo that ordered Justice Department officials to increase and continue to increase maximum sentencing and court rulings on punishments for drug offenders. Even non-violent drug offenders are now being hit with drug offenses and criminal incarceration sentencing that is far more serious than what they once were.
As we approach the next several years, we need to focus on how we can help addicts. The current Administration is likely taking their route because they have no other ideas or options. But there are other options and we need to make those known.