The War on Drugs has been a complete failure. Rooted in racism and stereotypes, misinformation, policy-instituted willful ignorance and deprivation of scientific research, and the targeting of minorities and other vulnerable populations, this immoral experiment has ruined the lives of untold people who use drugs, many of whom have caused no quantifiable harm to anyone. Drugs should be treated as a public health concern, not be criminalized.
Especially with ever-mounting concerns about the economized nature of the American prison system, the militarization of police, and the proven benefits of rehabilitative vs punitive justice, it is more important than ever that people open up to the possibility that how we’ve treated drug users and abusers has only made the problem worse.
A Pew Research poll shows that over 60% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Organizations such as Law Enforcement Action Partnership, formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), NORML, RIPAC, Regulate RI, the Marijuana Policy Project, and others have advocated for everything from legalization of medical marijuana to total legalization of all drugs for adult use. Law enforcement agreeing with these views have even been penalized or lost their jobs as a result.
RICRU supports the total legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use. Adults should be able to consume marijuana responsibly, and grow this plant untaxed in or around their homes.
Cannabis (weed, pot, marijuana) has been legalized, decriminalized, or made legal for medical use in a majority of U.S. states. It is scientific fact that cannabis is significantly less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, yet it remains only decriminalized in RI, where one can receive a $150 fine for even a dollar’s worth of cannabis, and criminal charges for anything over an ounce.
Full-scale legalization is already enacted in neighboring Massachusetts, with licensed stores to sell cannabis to adults over 21 set to open within this year. Our tax dollars will be going just minutes over the border, while innocent Rhode Islanders remain terrorized for using a relatively harmless herb.
Street sales of dangerous drugs could be virtually eliminated if drug use were treated as a public health concern. Dealers would have little incentive to deal drugs if they were regulated and legal, because like legal medications, drugs would be produced by highly-regulated companies that guaranteed the quality, dose, and type of drug. This would result in vast nationwide harm reduction and revolutionize the fight against the opioid crisis by mandating treatment instead of fines and imprisonment.
While there are a vast number of ideas about how to institute smart drug policies, we support the legalization of virtually all drugs, and that the criminal justice system be reformed to treat drug users as a social and public health concern, not as criminals to be punished and imprisoned in an environment that forces one to think like a criminal.