Want to know why the American Government will never legalize drugs? Because then they'd have to either justify keeping millions of non-violent drug offenders (users/sellers) in prison, or release them, neither of which those in power want to do.
I'm not the only one, I'm sure, that finds it ironic that in two states now (Colorado and Washington State) it is legal to sell weed, while there are people in prison for DECADES for doing that very thing. Murica indeed.
The thing is, though, is that you could legalize all drugs tomorrow, and not only would crime plummet but also drug use would drop as well. This isn't the baseless rantings of a lunatic drug head here, either. I don't do drugs. At all. I don't smoke cigarettes or anything else. Smoked pot twice in my life, didn't care for it, never did it since.
I don't drink either. Drank for the 1st time at age 22 for about six months with a room mate who was always buying, but then once we went our separate ways, I haven't had a drink since (over 15 years). And I can't stand being around people who do drink and do drugs. So I have no skin in the game personally, other than being tired of seeing my fellow man being denied their freedom for bullshit.
In Colorado when the recent legislation passed to legalize possession of marijuana, many people spoke up and asked about whether or not the 50,000 people who had been convicted from 2006 to 2010 in the state of pot related charges, would have their sentences either commuted or expunged from their record.
The answer, as if you didn't already know, is a big fat no.
Courtesy of TakePart.com
Though there’s a certain cruel logic to this viewpoint, from a global perspective it is an extreme outlier. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee what’s called “retroactive ameliorative relief” in sentencing. Meaning, when a law is passed to ease or eliminate punishments for a specific crime, those already convicted of that crime don’t necessarily receive the same relaxation or cessation of their sentence.
“The United States is one of only 22 countries that doesn’t guarantee retroactive ameliorative relief in sentencing,” says Amanda Solter, Project Director of Human Rights and Criminal Sentencing Reform Project for the University of San Francisco School of Law. “The only other countries that do this are places like Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, South Sudan, and a handful of countries in the Caribbean. Even Russia provides this right.”
So they clearly are not going to retroactively release all the drug offenders, because that would be ... you know...the RIGHT thing to do. So they'd be stuck to JUSTIFY leaving them in prison for doing something that the government is now doing themselves. And they clearly don't want that dragging into an election cycle.
For example, someone I know had a gun in his house because he lived in bad neighborhood and the house had been broken into multiple times in the past. The police came into his house as part of an investigation, and there was not only the gun, but also some crack that was completely unrelated to the gun. However, it was rolled up into a Gun and drugs charge, and he got a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison. No appealing it, no plea deal to knock it down, 5 years. Even if the judge wanted to say "hey this is outrageous, there's no reason to give this person 5 years, he has no say in the matter.
This is what causes three strike offenders to get life in prison for shoplifting.
Yes, that is bat shit crazy. And it's also the truth. Click here to read more about the "Fairness in Sentencing Act".
My mentioning about the crime and drug use going down, upon enacting drug legalization, is based in facts only. But in order to do this, the Government would have to admit it was wrong, something it never likes to do.
And the thing is, I understand that the knee jerk reaction is to immediately say "No way, you can't legalize drugs, think of the massive wave of overdoses that would wash over the land."
And yet.....that's not what has happened before when this was done.
Courtesy of TheFix.Com
Portugal became the first European nation to take the brave step of decriminalizing possession of all drugs within its borders—from marijuana to heroin, and everything in between. This controversial move went into effect in June of 2001, in response to the country’s spiraling HIV/AIDS statistics. While many critics in the poor and largely conservative country attacked the sea change in drug policy, fearing it would lead to drug tourism while simultaneously worsening the country’s already shockingly high rate of hard drug use, a report published in 2009 by the Cato Institute tells a different story. Glenn Greenwald, the attorney and author who conducted the research, told Time: “Judging by every metric, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country."Back in 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV among injecting drug users in the European Union—an incredible 2,000 new cases a year, in a country with a population of just 10 million. Despite the predictable controversy the move stirred up at home and abroad, the Portuguese government felt there was no other way they could effectively quell this ballooning problem. While here in the U.S. calls for full drug decriminalization are still dismissed as something of a fringe concern, the Portuguese decided to do it, and have been quietly getting on with it now for a decade. Surprisingly, most credible reports appear to show that decriminalization has been a staggering success.
The thing is, I understand, as I said, about the knee-jerk reactionary response to the idea of legalizing drugs. If you're a recovering addict, or you're someone who has worked with addicts or seen the devastation that drugs causes, I think it's easy to reflexively push back. You just imagine all the devastation you've seen drugs cause amplified by a million and want to reject any idea that this could work.
And I think you do yourself and others a disservice if you refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the answer to a horrible problem is not how you envision it in your head.
And to be honest, we can not possibly do worse than what we've already done in this nonsensical War on Drugs.
I'll leave you with this brilliant scene from the HBO series "The Wire", as three narcotics officers talk about "The War on Drugs", and one character, Carver (who currently stars on the excellent series Teen Wolf) explains why you can't really call it a "war".