An Exit Strategy Planned for the War…The Drug War

It seems that America may soon be attempting to exit from yet another war. In addition to trying to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) wants to see America end its war on drugs. The DPA recently released a document entitled, An Exit Strategy for the Failed War on Drugs, that proposed major changes in the policies aimed at controlling drug use and abuse. The document was sponsored by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); both of these legislators worked on the local level to reform drug policy before running for congress.

The criminalization of drug use is a large part of the issue driving the congressmen’s proposal. In an open letter to the press, Rep. Jeffries said: “The US has approximately 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prison population, largely resulting from failed policy decisions connected to the war on drugs.”

The legislators feel this is a travesty of justice that has cost the country countless dollars in lost productivity. The representatives’ passion for the topic is clear as they made more than 75 recommendations for changes to help reform drug policy in the US affecting numerous areas, including:

  • Deficit reduction
  • Law enforcement
  • Civil rights
  • Sentencing for drug offenses
  • Re-entry in society after prison
  • Drug treatment programs
  • Public health campaigns for prevention and education
  • Foreign policy

DPA Worried About Lack of Drug Policy Changes by the Obama Administration

The congressmen wrote their drug policy guide partly because they feel that the Obama administration has done little to make changes to a failing drug policy. The ‘War on Drugs’ was created more than 40 years ago during the Nixon administration, and many believe that no major successes have occurred since then from the policies instituted at that time. Bill Piper, a rep for the DPA stated, “There’s a saying, if you find yourself in a hole the first thing you should do is stop digging. The US is in a deep drug war hole.”

Congressmen Would Like to See Harm Reduction Drug Policy Take a Front Seat

The hope of the guide created by the congressmen would be to see policymakers develop strategies that would reduce the harm associated with drug use. The first step to that end, according to Piper, would be to put a moratorium on creating new crimes involving drugs or increasing sentences for offenders. Since 18 states have now adopted legislation moving in this direction, the DPA is hoping these policy changes are inevitable.

Do you agree with the DPA’s proposed drug policy changes? Share your opinions below.