From Dr. Mercola:
Prescriptions for opioids have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years — a trend that has fueled, if not created a whole new heroin epidemic.1 Americans use the most opioids of any nation — twice the amount used by Canadians, who come in second place in terms of prescriptions.
So many Americans are on opioids, there’s now a huge market for drugs to treat opioid-induced constipation (OIC). A major TV spot for OIC even ran during the televising of the 2016 Super Bowl.2
Meanwhile, the war on (illicit) drugs, which exacts particularly harsh punishment for minor marijuana offenses, has proven itself a miserable failure that actually contributes to the current drug abuse epidemic.
Medical Experts Warn: War on Drugs Is Harming Public Health
According to a recent report3,4 by the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, the war on drugs is harming public health, and governments around the world would be wise to decriminalize minor, non-violent drug offenses.
In countries that have already done so, such as Portugal and the Czech Republic, a number of benefits have been noted, including cost savings, and contrary to popular belief, decriminalization has not led to a rise in drug use. As reported by Reuters:5
“The U.N. General Assembly holds a special session on drugs [in April] at which it will reconsider the global approach to illicit drugs for the first time since 1998.
The decades-long strategy of outlawing drugs and jailing users, while battling cartels that control the trade, has come under increasing fire from critics in recent years.
The report’s authors called instead for an evidence-based approach, focused on reducing harm by minimizing both the violence associated with drugs and the health risks, such as the transmission of HIV and hepatitis through shared needles.”
The Cost of Criminalizing Marijuana
A 2014 article in The New York Times6 specifically addressed the high cost of criminalizing marijuana use, noting:
“The toll can be measured in dollars — billions of which are thrown away each year in the aggressive enforcement of pointless laws. It can be measured in years — whether wasted behind bars or stolen from a child who grows up fatherless.
And it can be measured in lives — those damaged if not destroyed by the shockingly harsh consequences that can follow even the most minor offenses … Outrageously long sentences are only part of the story.
The hundreds of thousands of people who are arrested each year but do not go to jail also suffer; their arrests stay on their records for years, crippling their prospects for jobs, loans, housing and benefits.”
In the city of New York, less than 800 arrests were made for marijuana offenses in 1991. In 2010, that number had skyrocketed to 59,000. Across the U.S., more than 8.2 million marijuana-related arrests were made between 2001 and 2010, and about 90 percent of those were for possession alone, not distribution.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration