December 30, 2015
Public Health Problem or Public Safety Problem?
Here's an opinion piece in the Washington Post comparing the battle against tobacco with the "war on drugs." The ban on TV and radio ads for tobacco began under the Nixon administration, as did the war on drugs. Tobacco was treated as a public health issue. Drugs were criminalized. The end result? Tobacco use has declined by a huge percentage, especially among children. Drugs? No change.
According to the Monitoring the Future report, daily use of marijuana by 12th-graders was at 6 percent in 1975; in 2014, it was 5.8 percent. The picture with heroin has shown similar stability. In 1975, 1 percent of 12th-graders had used heroin within the year. In 2000 that figure was 1.5 percent. In 2014 it was down to 0.6 percent, but it may be climbing again.
The war on drugs has done nothing except increase the costs of law enforcement and engendered a generalized disrespect for law enforcement...just as alcohol prohibition did.