FYI, the “War on drugs” is not a solution… OP-ED#2

The War on drugs started by the US President Nixon in 1971, has been an issue in the United States ever since then President dubbed it as an issue almost 47 years ago. To this day the United States is still wasting millions of dollars every day on this endless “war” that was started by Nixon , yet they still have not realized they have lost the war from the first battle.

It has been proven by experts that this war mainly affected minority groups, especially the ones living in poverty. The war has been referred to as a racist move by President Nixon by starting this war to create a racial divide, due to the “popularity” of marijuana in the “hippie culture” and heroin in black culture, while others are arguing that he saw it as a social “rot” that is going to ruin the US, and it bothered him. It has been noted that 15 – 20 % of the soldiers during the Vietnam war were addicted to heroin.

The United States have been fighting this war well-over 45 years, yet they still don’t seem to give up. The government haven’t realized that their costly attempts is actually not working, and they have not even considered to take a different approach

The war on drugs isn’t only taking place in the US, but it’s a huge problem in the Philippines as well that started not that long ago. President Rodrigo Duterte began the very costly “war on drugs” on June 30th 2016, and by costly, I’m not only referring to money.

According to the Human Rights Watch, the Philippines’ war on drugs has been responsible for the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos in less than 2 years, and over 2,500 have been attributed to the Philippine National Police. To make matters worse, the police have been caught falsifying evidence to justify the killings, yet the president won’t take action and vowed to carry on with the war.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, just under 50 people that were suspected for using or selling drugs have been killed by the National police. During the two months, the police have carried out 3,253 raids that lead to the arrests and the deaths of 46. In 2017, a few police officers have been found guilty to the deaths of three teenagers, then they attempted to lie about the teenager’s deaths.

The Philippines should have learned from the US’ approach and how it has been unsuccessful for decades, and instead look at some of the European countries who have managed to solve the problem.

 Instead of dealing with the problem as a criminal justice issue, the US and Philippines could learn from Europe and deal with it as a health issue, it actually has been proven to be successful and cut down deaths by overdose more than 50% and decreased the spread of infections and diseases by needles, such as HIV, for over 50% as well.

Switzerland for example, stopped punishing offenders and instead lent them a helping hand. The Swiss government started to deal with the problem as a public health issue, so they started to supply clean needles, syringes, and safe & hygienic injection rooms. These precautions have decreased the spread of HIV by over 50 percent in 10 years.

Portugal had a heroin epidemic that used to affect 1% of the population, but then they also decriminalized illegal drugs in 2001. In 2012 they had 16 drug related deaths opposed to a 10.5 million population. The Portuguese view the matter of drug addiction as a health problem which helps in the acceptance of an addict in society. If addicts were to be viewed as criminals, this will affect their future in finding jobs since it’ll be on their criminal record. Therefore, decriminalizing illegal drugs encourages people to seek professional help without feeling ashamed or scared.

Dr. Christian Jessen have released multiple reasons on why waging a War on drugs has been quite unsuccessful. By criminalizing drugs, minors won’t get the proper education on drugs, they will be scared to seek proper & professional help and they could get their hands on illegal drugs without notice which will lead to possible fatalities.

Also, another reason for drug related fatalities, actual drug wars. It has been mentioned by Dr. Jessen how leaving the drug market to criminals could lead young people to get caught in the crossfire between drug gangs. When young people join drug gangs it could also lead to them being enslaved by the gang to smuggle or grow drug crops.

 If youth were to be caught taking drugs this will lead to a permanent crime on their criminal record which won’t help with the unemployment rates, and if it was the children’s parents taking drugs, they will be taken away from their parents.

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