The war on drugs was created solely for the purpose of incarcerating black and brown drug dealers and drug addicts. There are thousands of addicts that are currently serving time due to personal addiction.
Now that the dynamics have changed, and the addicts are now upper middle-class Caucasian people, the powers that be are now singing a different tune.
Let’s get them treatment, let’s get them help, this is not a crime, this is a sickness, this is a public health crisis. However, when it was black and brown people, it was, “Let’s lock them up and throw away the keys”. It was a crime punishable from 10 years up to life depending on the amount of drug and the type of drug they were caught with.
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These days, the so-called “war on drugs” has taken a dramatic turn, with a shift away from treating substance abuse as a criminal issue, and a bipartisan consensus that this should be treated as a public health issue.
As Nora Kelly reported in The Atlantic, there is an opioid epidemic across the country, and it is chiefly a white problem that is increasingly affecting higher-income whites. Hence, the bipartisan agreement to move away from a law-enforcement approach. Members of the National Governors Association, who are holding their winter conference in Washington, met with President Obama at the White House on Monday.
“This is an area when I can get agreement from Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell,” President Obama said, referring to senators from Vermont and Kentucky, two states particularly affected by the epidemic. “That doesn’t happen that often,” but “it indicates the severity of the issue,” he said.
The governors, Democratic and Republican alike, want to develop protocols for the safe use of opioid pain relievers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkillers were responsible for over 70 percent of drug-related overdose deaths in 2013. Further, prescription painkillers are viewed as a gateway to heroin, both of which are opiate-based, as four out of every five new heroin users had already abused prescription drugs. The problem is particularly white and rural, as Kelly reports.
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