A distant but real problem
My history with drugs is possibly unique in my generation. A shining example of what Reagan’s War on Drugs was supposed to do, I have avoided all but the barest whiff of illegal drug activity, unless you count that coffee cocktail I had at Xando’s when I was 19 and all the cannabis I’ve smelled over years of concertgoing. I am largely clueless about drugs, and it looks likely I will remain so for the rest of my life. I’m not too worried about this. My coffee dependency is plenty for me to keep up with, thank you very much.
I can go either way on the drug debate that seems to exist as a mild susurrus beneath the social and political discourse of the day. I think addiction is a far more insidious societal ill than drugs themselves. If I could make a trade and decriminalize a few drugs (cannabis is high on the list) in return for erasing alcohol addiction, I’d do it. I don’t know how to balance things in this Real World we live in however, so mostly I just listen to other people talk.
In the spirit of listening to people who know more about this issue than I do, I found this article: How Mandatory Minimums Forced Me to Send More Than 1,000 Nonviolent Drug Offenders to Federal Prison interesting. I was dimly aware of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses but I didn’t think they were that high and I certainly hadn’t thought deeply about them. This gave me food for thought:
If lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug addicts actually worked, one might be able to rationalize them. But there is no evidence that they do. I have seen how they leave hundreds of thousands of young children parentless and thousands of aging, infirm and dying parents childless. They destroy families and mightily fuel the cycle of poverty and addiction. In fact, I have been at this so long, I am now sentencing the grown children of people I long ago sent to prison.