Fri, 28 March 2014
When asked about the US strategy in the War on Drugs, American drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said “In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” and "forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.” In 2011 the Global Commission on Drugs issued its top recommendation: reclassify drug use as a public health issue instead of a criminal issue. In 2013 President Obama announced a plan to expand drug education efforts, increase access to treatment for drug users and restructure the use of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences. Some European countries have already begun to implement these policies with interesting results. What do Obama’s new initiatives mean for the country? What does it mean to reclassify drug use as a public health issue? What lessons can be learned from Europe? Can the United States effectively reduce the harmful effects of drugs at home and abroad while also reducing the enormous fiscal burden of the War on Drugs?