War on drugs is a war on us

Erika Heck and Erika Heck

The War on Drugs is a failure and has not achieved anything.

Since the 1970s, constant smear campaigns against psychedelics and marijuana have plagued our televisions and our public schools while alcohol and tobacco are normalized, though they are more damaging.

This 40 year campaign has brought stigma onto people who have addictions, people who are recovering from addictions and people who consciously decide to take drugs recreationally.

After 40 years of this, I demand to say no more.

Despite being legalized for medical use in half the country, marijuana is still illegal and a Schedule I drug, which claims the drug has no medical properties. The Drug Enforcement Agency has consistently pushed back rescheduling the drug to a lower class, which is not only delaying further research that should be done, but is preventing people from being able to receive treatment that works.

Psychedelics have also been used for therapeutic purposes; there’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying this.

The Drug War also began the rise of mass incarceration, with black and brown bodies being put in jail at disproportionately higher rates than those of their white counterparts. The Drug War has been used to promote racism through a “colorblind concept” lens, leading people to completely ignore the underlying intersections of how institutional racism has played a role in the racial profiling that happens because of the War on Drugs.

I tell you these things because for too long people have been bought on the idea that drugs are a criminal issue. People who use them should be locked in jail. But it is more than just taking people to jail and making sure they don’t have their addiction. Addiction is no longer seen as a behavioral problem, but actually a disease that disorders the brain.

Not only do we have to combat the social stigmas surrounding drug use, addiction and policies, but we also need to reform current policies in order to make sure drug use is treated differently.

We cannot be complacent about what happens to our drug laws with the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an opponent of marijuana and a supporter of the Drug War since its beginning.

“Reefer madness” is a myth. The D.A.R.E. program is outdated and no longer serves a purpose in a society where marijuana is used medically and psychedelics are becoming a way to do multiple therapy sessions in just one.

Now is the time to change the way we handle this.

With education and harm reduction, people will be able to be more knowledgeable about the drugs they ingest and will be more knowledgeable about ingesting them. Education and harm reduction will be able to help create a society where people do no feel criminalized for either having a problem or doing something for fun.

Assisting people who are overdosing should also not be a crime. When someone is in dire need of medical attention, it should never have to come down to a decision of, “Should I help or should I go to jail?”

A drug-free society is unrealistic; if people are going to do them, it is important that they are smart about it.

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