For most, there is little doubt that the War on Drugs is an indisputable failure. It has taken an excessive amount of money, manpower, and lives with little to show for it besides one of the worst drug epidemics in the history of the country. Time has proven these policies to be ineffective and costly, so where do we go from here?
Perspective in our nation changes and the stigma attached to addiction is now being to be confronted. Along with it all comes waves of new proposals on how America’s drug policies can evolve. Which is the right way is still unclear.
Right now, while many are confused if Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration will be actively cracking down on marijuana in states with legalization laws, there are others on the federal level that are actively pushing in the opposite direction. Part of a new bill currently in the House is trying to do even more to end the War on Drugs, by directly pushing pro-pot politics.
The Marijuana Justice Act
Last August, Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey introduced the “Marijuana Justice Act of 2017”. He was joined by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee from California in bringing the reform legislation to both chambers of Congress. Historically, this was the first time a companion legislation was introduced in both chambers to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). According to early reports, as a companion to Booker’s S. 1689 is the companion bill HR 4815. These efforts are to:
- Remove marijuana from CSA
- Incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests
- Expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession
- Allow individuals currently in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition for resentencing
- Create community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the War on Drugs
Currently, marijuana is in the same federal category as drugs like:
Even those who do not advocate for marijuana legalization at least see the fault in its scheduling. Trey Growdy, the Republican Representative from South Carolina has repeatedly questioned why marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug. This schedule actually puts it above Cocaine and methamphetamines.
One of the big pieces of the bill is also that bit about expunging convictions. Justin Strekal, political director for NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) notes that this is “the first piece of legislation that addresses expungement issues,” to clean up former criminal records for cannabis use.
Now, a new version of the bill has been introduced to the House just last week. The goal is described as a campaign against the current federal drug policy and the failed War on Drugs.
Speaking with Sponsors of Bill
Last year, after introducing his version of the bill, Senator Cory Booker stated,
“Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed.”
“They don’t make our communities any safer—instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
Booker also believes getting rid of old pot-policies of the War on Drugs would help to bolster the economy. He states,
“It’s estimated that legal cannabis in the U.S. would create $40 billion in revenue and nearly a million jobs.”
“But it’s about more than that $40 billion —it’s about equality, and getting rid of the legal past that is stifling individuals’ opportunity and their future.”
One co-sponsor for the bill is Representative Ro Khanna. He says that revenue from taxes on marijuana would then be allocated to funding the programs to reinvest in communities that were harmed by the anti-pot policies of the War on Drugs.
Representative Barbara Lee says,
“This legislation will end this destructive War on Drugs.”
This new bill to attack the War on Drugs also has the support of the Drug Policy Alliance. Kassandra Frederique, the New York States Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, states,
“This bill makes clear to state and local elected officials that they cannot move forward beyond prohibition without taking a serious look at the historical and ongoing impacts of drug war policies.”
Supporters of the bill continue to emphasize that this isn’t just about ending pot prohibition. They say it is also about putting forth resources to help communities recover.
Why are We Talking About This?
As a provider of innovative holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, we pay attention to the way drug policy changes because we know how it impacts communities around the country. In order to provide help to those who need it, we have to be talking about these changes. If drug policies shift, we must talk about how they can affect those who struggle with substance use disorder.
It does not matter if a drug is an illicit black-market substance, or a popular legalized product, substance abuse and addiction are still possible. If marijuana reform is going to continue to grow, it is also our responsibility to bring attention to the possible risks and side effects for some who use marijuana.
If pro-pot politics are going to put marijuana in the mainstream, there should also be an effort to promote substance abuse treatment options. Looking back, if the War on Drugs taught us anything, it is that there should be a strong focus on providing treatment, not punishment. If we want to make things better, we have to offer every opportunity to help those who need it most.
Marijuana abuse can have a noticeable impact on some people’s lives, and often times it is accompanied by another form of substance abuse. Acknowledging the influence of drugs in your life and knowing when to get help can make the recovery process a life-changing journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
September 27, 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM, thousands of DEA-coordinated collection sites will be available across the country, and consumers are encouraged to use this unique opportunity to safely and legally dispose of any unneeded and/or expired medications. National Drug Take-Back Day has been an astounding success in the past few years it has been in practice, and hopefully the program will continue to develop and encourage contribution.
Regular Americans show up in the thousands and dispose of prescription medications, many of which are dangerous and addictive substances. This continued collaboration of government offices, local law enforcement and proactive citizens is doing some serious damage in the fight against prescription drug addiction, and another opportunity to make a difference is only a few days away.
What is National Drug Take Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day collection site locator is now available online, allowing consumers to search for a nearby location to dispose of unneeded, unwanted, or expired medications on Saturday. Medications including prescription painkillers and other controlled substance medications are expected to be brought in and disposed of in mass amounts, but these specifically dangerous prescription drugs can only be accepted for disposal when law enforcement is present. Participating sites will accept tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms of unwanted medication.
The DEA also has made the attempt to inform the general public that the drug take-back service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked, so anyone who feels as if they may get a little unwanted police attention for bringing in any substances should not be concerned. Personal information may be blacked out on prescription bottles, or medications may be emptied from the bottles into bins provided at the locations.
A History of Success
The United States DEA launched its first Drug Take-Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 which amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow people to safely dispose of their unwanted or expired medications by delivering them to locations and officials authorized to accept them for disposal by the Attorney General. This was a very important change in policy because the original CSA did not provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of the more dangerous and powerful controlled substance medications such as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs.
To date, consumers have disposed of at least 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of unwanted medication during previous DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days. After seven previous Take Back Days in the past that have been spread out over almost four years, and the most recent Drug Take-Back Day reported 780,158 pounds (390 tons) of pills that were brought to the 6,072 collection sites that DEA and its 4,423 state, local, and tribal law enforcement affiliates made available on April 26th. These locations we set up so that the public could discard of any and all unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs from their homes. So many citizens turned up and emptied out their medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers in an effort to contribute.
A Growing Effort
The DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart is a firm believer and supporter of the Drug Take Back initiative and in regards to how the program has been effectively implemented stated,
“DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back events provide an obviously needed and valued service to the public, while also reducing prescription drug abuse and trafficking. By taking these medications off their hands, our citizens know they have made their own families and communities safer. We continue to work toward making the process for disposing of controlled substance medications by users and their caregivers even easier by creating regulations that will enable the public to regularly, safely, and conveniently dispose of such medicines when they are no longer needed or wanted.”
The past 4 years of the Drug Take Back Day program have shown a great deal of improvement in awareness and effectiveness, and the increase of medications being turned in is comforting and affirming in the process.
- September 25th, 2010- 242,000 Pounds
- April 30th, 2010- 376,593 Pounds
- October 29, 2011- 377,086 Pounds
- April 28th, 2011- 552,161 Pounds
- September 29th, 2012- 488,395 Pounds
- April 27th, 2013- 742,497 Pounds
- October 26th, 2013- 647,211 Pounds
- April 26th, 2014- 780, 158 Pounds
The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the Obama administration’s strategy for ccombating the drastic rise in prescription drug abuse and trafficking of controlled substances. This strategy is also meant to include educating health care providers, patients, parents and young people about prescription pill abuse and the dangers it entails. By enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states, and by increased law enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills the DEA and Obama administration hope to end this chapter in the war on drugs.
National Drug Take- Back Day is an excellent opportunity to try and contribute to the awareness of the prescription drug problem in America, and to the conscious efforts of the public to fight the addiction at home by cutting off one key source of the abuse of controlled substances in the home. Drug Take-Back Day is so fundamentally important because the non-medical use of controlled substance medications is currently at an all-time high.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013, over 6.8 million Americans reported to having abused prescription drugs back in 2012. That same study revealed more than 54% of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, and this statistic includes individuals digging through the medicine cabinet or friends or relatives.
For more information on how to get involved you can check the DEA collection site locator, as new locations will continue to be added until the next Drug Take-Back Day on September 27, 2014. Addiction is a deadly disease that affects not just the individual, but family, friends and so many others, so we should all do our part to raise awareness or prevent the spread of prescription pill abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135