Chief Robert MacKenzie runs a police department in Kennebunk, Maine, a town of just over 11,000 citizens. It is a tourist town with a small, tight-knit community on the coast. His plans to fix the opioid crisis in America, however, are anything but small. Maine sits near the top of a notorious list. It’s ranked in the top ten for most opioid deaths in the country. In 2016, there were 301 opioid-related overdose deaths in Maine, a rate of 25.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, nearly double the national rate. Maine has struggled with drug and addiction problems for years, and the solutions have been slim and ineffective from the statehouse in Augusta.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang promises in his platform to “decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of opioids,” citing similar policy in Portugal to address their own addiction crisis. However, in his April 14 CNN Town Hall, moderator Ana Cabrera pushed Yang about the specifics of his drug decriminalization policy; would he decriminalize drugs like cocaine as well?
By Indri Schaelicke | United States
Since the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the War on Drugs has destroyed countless lives. This campaign often oversteps constitutional restrictions to searches and seizures without warrants or probable cause. Worse than this, however, is the pain it inflicts upon families. For mere use of an illicit substance, the state takes people away from their loved ones.
By Mason Mohon | United States
Many times I have brushed off comparisons of Donald Trump to fascists and dictators, but his proposed plan to solve the United States’ opioid epidemic showed just how wrong I was. On Thursday, the president proposed that we combat the wave of opioid deaths sweeping our country with the death penalty. This is a problem on many, many levels.
The President does not seem to see why these dealers who make tons of money selling phenomenally dangerous drugs are still in business. The war on drugs has driven up the price of drugs a lot because it is the only solution to the ailment of addiction that users have. They can’t get help, that isn’t an option in the U.S., for drug use is an issue of criminality, not an issue of health. Drug users have to get their fix, which means they have to go back to the dealers and are willing to pay any cost. These dealers will hike up the price and soon have phenomenally profitable black-market enterprises.
We saw the same thing happen during alcohol prohibition: many people made fortunes selling moonshine and running underground bars. Something very similar is happening during the drug prohibition era. If Donald Trump really wanted to fix this crisis, we would change the way we deal with the users. Drugs like Iboga and Kratom work wonders for helping to solve opioid addiction, yet Iboga remains a schedule one drug and mandatory minimums of jail time, along with a messed up judicial system, making it incredibly hard to get out of a painful addiction.
What we also need to realize, though, is that the pharmaceutical industry is in no way helpful to this either. There is a plethora of opioids currently legal and dished out to unnerving degrees to just about anyone facing any sort of painful ailment at all. The real gateway drug is the doctor’s office because 80% of heroin users report getting hooked on opioids from the doc to begin their spiral.
The problem goes to another level, though. Chemical hooks are not the sole cause of this crisis of addiction. Drug use is often caused by lack of strong social ties or any sort of support group. Fewer Americans are going to churches to build communities or having closer ties with actual humans. The phones probably have a lot to do with this too, because having best friends that speak to you from an electronic screen rather than from across the table is sure to have a negative psychological effect. A government mandate can’t exactly fix this part of the problem, though, because you cannot be forced into building strong interpersonal relationships.
The solution rests on you and me. Keep a hawks eye on your friends and loved ones when the doctor begins to prescribe Fentanyl. Don’t let them float away, stay close to them.
Killing people who enter voluntary exchanges is not going to fix this problem because it ignores the real causes of the problem. Intentions are not results, and even the best intentions are not going to make this “solution” viable for the very real issue of American opioid use.