Friday, April 27, 2007

OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT OF DRUG POLICIES AND THEIR IMPACT

ANALYSIS OF UK DRUG POLICY was released on April 18, 2007, by the UK Drug Policy Commission. The full report and executive summary are available at: http://www.ukdrugpolicycommission.org.uk/reports.shtml.

Some data from the executive summary:
* the number of "dependent heroin users" in UK estimated at 5,000 in 1975, today 281,000;
* between 1998 and 2004/5 "Government has successfully increased the number of drug dependent users entering treatment . . . .from 85,000 in 1998 to 181,000 in 2004/5 [leading to] ... substantial reductions in drug use, crime and health problems...";
* "the majority of this treatment involves the prescription of heroin substitution drugs (mostly methadone)";
* more than half of the estimated problem drug users are now in contact with structured treatment each year;

The report is important not only in what it tells us about the response to the drug problem in UK; it also raises questions about what comparable data exist elsewhere that would permit an objective assessment of drug polices and their impact. For instance, is there in the US at national or state levels information on the extent to which "Government has successfully increased" enrollment in addiction treatment in recent years, and the proportion of "problem drug users [that] are now in contact with structured treatment each year"?
Anyone know of efforts currently under way to obtain such data?

Not rhetorical questions - would welcome posting of comments/responses.

1 Comments:

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Martin Sims said...

What does it mean to represent the American people? What do the American people expect from their representatives? How well do you feel your Representatives in Congress are doing the job of representing you, your children, your future? How much longer are we as a people going to allow the two party system of Democrats and Republicans to prevent any real changes in the fabric of our society? When each party pulls its Freshmen Representatives and Legislators into private sessions and tells them they are going to vote the party line or be opposed in the next elections by the party itself, what real change can be expected from them? Such a state of affairs creates an atmosphere in which each party must steadfastly and consistently denounce the other parties’ ideas as a matter of course, regardless of the merits to be found in the oppositions ideas.

What does the future hold for an America trapped in a 100+ year war on drugs and facing the reality that we have never even been close to winning? How many futures have been lost or compromised by the tendency of the judiciary to throw the harshest sentences at non-violent crimes and a penal system that plays favorites with murderers, rapists and pedophiles? I believe that there are very simple things that can be done that would provide incredible results in a timescale of weeks and months rather than years and decades!!!

Imagine if you will a national drug policy that would immediately take billions of dollars out of the hands of Hostile Governments, Terrorists, Organized Crime Cartels, Gangs, and corrupt Politicians, Peace Officers, Judges and Lawyers and put that money into practical use by the people and for the people! Imagine a policy that would allow for an evolution in the tax code making it possible to eradicate the property tax on U.S. citizens and for the first time in the history of our country provide Americans the opportunity to truly own the property they have paid for. Imagine a public policy that would provide for the downtrodden, the weak, the elderly and the mentally disabled and addicted, without demanding that more capable and or responsible American’s be held back by being made to pay for those that can’t or won’t pay for themselves.. Imagine a national drug policy that made sense and created results that could be immediately seen and felt throughout the country and the classes!!!

All of these things are completely possible, but not until we shed some very old and destructive ideas. The first and most damaging belief that neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to be willing to let go, is the idea that you can control an addictive commodity by criminalizing it. For over 100 years we as a nation have continued to believe that by making the most addictive commodities illegal to possess or distribute that we can eradicate the desire for the commodity itself. When that has failed to work we have continued the lunacy by increasing the fines and penalties for dealing in addictive commodities. However, all that these laws have done is increase the demand and the supply by making addictive commodities so lucrative that even people not considering such wares from a point of desperation have been hard pressed to stay away from them. Furthermore the policy trend has brought about an open fear and deep-seated contempt for police officers and law enforcement agencies that have had to become paramilitary organizations to keep up with the gangs and cartels that these policies have created!!!

Imagine what the reality of decriminalization for addictive commodities would be. I am referring to ALL ADDICTIVE COMMODITIES. If marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other such addictive commodities were decriminalized, HEAVILY taxed and the proceeds for those commodities were used to eradicate the property tax, several things could be reasonably expected to immediately follow. First and foremost, terrorists, organized crime cartels and gangs would lose control of the most lucrative commodities the world has ever known and the best market for such commodities in the world. Property values in the United Sates would soar, and agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars annually without providing comparable results could be closed down. Last year the D.E.A.’s budget was two and one half Billion dollars. How many busses, computers, textbooks, and other educational expenses could that single budget pay for? How many addicts could be brought back to a more productive and healthy lifestyle with an annual budget of 2.5 billion dollars?

How many Americans are arrested and given criminal records each and every day as a result of our current policies? Between January 12, 2005 and September 30, 2005, there were 4,396 Federal offenders sentenced for marijuana-related charges in U.S. Courts. Think about that for a moment, almost 4,400 people incarcerated just on federal charges and only related to marijuana, in only 9 months! California alone averages 400,000 drug related arrests every year. What would the national impact of immediately ceasing such arrests be? It is time to use public policies at state and federal levels to moderate the use of the most damaging and destructive substances while using the proceeds to help those who want to quit get all the help and care they require to get clean and stay clean.

History has given us all the lessons we should require on this subject. The criminalization of alcohol created the highest crime and murder rates known to this country until the cartels and gangs made addictive commodities their stock in trade. Now with our National Security threatened by the liquidity of such commodities and the attraction of terrorists to such revenue streams, the war on drugs must be ended to prevent inadvertently aiding the terrorist war against western civilization. It is time to control the commodities and the proceeds in the only manner possible. By legalizing the sale and distribution of these commodities through state controlled and federally monitored retailers and taxing these commodities 300% or more.

The United States of America could see crime rates drop as much as 50%, possibly more within one year, and I would also expect the same rate of decrease in the national murder rate within a mere matter of months. The men and woman who represent us and our individual states owe it to each constituent to have an honest debate about this issue and to shed the ignorance and fear that has cost so many Americans their lives and the freedom of so many citizens for over 100 years and counting.

 

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