9 October 2013, 21:49

War on drugs no longer a criminal justice problem - expert

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The War on Drugs in the US is over, and, according to the medical journal BMJ Open, it's been a big failure. New figures show dramatic increases in the purity of heroin, cocaine, and cannabis, coupled with a dramatic drop in price. So what has America received in return for its trillion dollar question by the war on drugs - that's a question many Americans want to know as prison populations swell and more and more states are rethinking tough anti-drug sentencing. Stephen Downing, Retired deputy chief of police, gives his perspective of the story in an interview to Voice of Russia.

“We lost a lot. We've had the social fabric of our communities destroyed, many of our communities. We've put 43 million people non-violent drug offenders in prison and labeled them as drug offenders for the rest of their lives. We've fractured homes, we've taken fathers and mothers away from their children. We foster children across this country and we have built a black hole, that continues to spin downward,” – Mr Downing said.

Mr Downing also said that he sees the fact that some states are starting to rethink their drug enforcement policy and others are trying to decriminalize marihuana as a step in the right direction.

Mr Downing says that the solution of the problem lies in the education of the public, “We've done a pretty good job of educating the people on marihuana and they are coming to see that the demonization of users of marihuana and the drug itself has been one of the big lies that's been perpetrated by our government since 1932-1933 – something to replace the prohibition of alcohol.”

According to Mr Downing, more and more the public is getting educated. Proposition 19 in California, which failed, resulted in great education of the public. And subsequent to that Colorado and Washington have voted to legalize, regulate and control, very strictly control recreation of marihuana. The DOJ, the Attorney General, has announced, that now they have some guidelines to prevent the enforcement of federal law.

“But that is only a policy, so what we need next is to remove schedule warn of the control of Substances Act. And then we will be on the road. I think that we can take the entirety at the DEA and put them into investigating fraud of Medicare and fraud of many other programs that go out across the country, and help this country recover from the damage bad agencies have done to our society,” – Mr Downing said.

“It is a problem of education and health. It is not a criminal justice problem,” – Mr Downing concluded.

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