Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Police and health
The police-state approach to public health problems like substance abuse will make for an interesting class discussion when the Bill of Rights is covered at Steamboat Springs High School, but it won't likely impact rates of drug use. The steady rise in drug-sniffing dogs in schools, warrantless police searches and random drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties in America, while failing miserably at preventing drug use.
The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions, a majority of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition and perhaps because of forbidden fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country.
The drug war threatens the integrity of a country founded on the concept of limited government. It's not possible to wage a moralistic war against consensual vices unless privacy is eliminated, along with the Constitution. The United States now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug offenses accounting for the majority of federal incarcerations. America can either be a free country or a "drug-free" country but not both.
Common Sense for Drug Policy