Q&A of the Day – Not jailing drug users but taking the fight to the pushers
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry... Is in response to my comments yesterday that I feel it’s better to not jail users of illegal substances but go hard after the pushers.
Brian, so do we let drunk drivers off the hook and go after the liquor stores?
Bottom Line: I’m going to address this in a way that isn’t aimed at attempting to win a debate as much as framing a pragmatic argument. I understand your point, but I don’t agree with the application of it in the debate about the prosecution of users. For example, if someone were under the influence of an illegal drug and driving, I’d certainly want them charged with a DUI (as is the case of the person driving drunk in your example). Alcohol is a legal substance so unless they’re selling to minors, no they certainly don’t bear any responsibility for their legal product being used irresponsibly by the user. Someone driving under the influence puts themselves but also others at risk of harm due to their actions. Also driving isn’t a right to begin with. This ties into my bigger point.
Since the “War on Drugs” began in the 1970’s we’ve had the same approach as a society. Jail the users and the pushers. But has anything gotten any better? Our illegal drug problem today is as bad as it’s been at any point previously. I don’t see the benefit to society by using law enforcement’s limited resources to book and prosecute users who don’t hurt anyone but themselves with their usage. I’d rather dedicate all of the law enforcement resources to target the drug traffickers and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. And perhaps increasing the penalties for drug trafficking as well. Done effectively this will do more to solve the illegal drug use over time than arresting every illegal drug user we find while reducing the overcrowded prison conditions as well. All of which costs us all money as tax payers.
No drug traffickers, and penalties so steep it discourages people from considering doing it and we’ve got a real chance of making a serious dent in illegal drug use and illegal gang activities in our cities. Doing more of what we’ve been doing is certain to bring more of the same.