Decriminalizing drugs is a topic of a lot of discussions, with the United Nations backing it. But, what does that mean for our country? Ours is different from the others that have seen much better progress in that area than we have. Will it work here? While there are many things to consider, here are just a few:
Decriminalizing Drugs: Drugged Driving Statistics
On the rise, drugged driving was studied in 2015. Of motorists tested forty-three percent tested positive, opposed to the thirty-seven who were drunk. The tests showed that more than any other drug, marijuana was used. And while cannabis accounts for thirty-five percent of the positive drug tests, amphetamines are only nine percent. The rest were classified as “other,” which meant that they were substances that cause impairment but have no classification. The research is still new, and there is always data coming in. The problem isn’t reporting, but discerning which influence leads to the effects since there is usually a mixture of two.
There isn’t a lot that tells us what the solutions may be. We are still finding it hard to find answers for drunk driving, which has had more research and has been legal longer. And unfortunately, it would be a hard task to calculate statistics of how alcohol has affected drivers before and after legalization. Even with that information, it wouldn’t seem a conclusive analogy. And when data is collected, it is the information that is reported by states. This means that there is a small margin for error, some unreported cases, and questions of accuracy. And not only do they not know the frequency of the tests being administered, but there is also no knowledge of which drugs they are also being tested for.
Decriminalizing Drugs: Opioid Addiction
Already, opioid addiction is a problem across the country. While it is illegal, this hasn’t prevented or lowered the rise, and it is being considered a health crisis. There are more dangerous drugs that are available and in alarmingly more massive quantities than those in the past. The leading cause of death for those under fifty has become drug overdose. The New York Times has compiled data that gives preliminary findings of over fifty-nine thousand deaths in 2016. That is a jump the nation has never seen and holds the record. A nineteen percent increase from 2015, which was fifty-two thousand and four hundred and four deaths. This year is predicted to magnify that trend and surpass those numbers. Five drug companies in Ohio are facing lawsuits for abetting the opioid epidemic, with an estimated increase of twenty-five percent.
Decriminalizing Drugs: Problem in Small Town America
It has been argued that if this is a problem in Columbus, then it will not be long before it hits the rest of the middle-class suburbs of the nation. That is why the lawsuit filed against five drug companies is raising eyebrows. The new issue has become fentanyl and all of its analogs. These are newer, but far more deadly, than anything we had seen on the drug scene before them. The smallest quantity being absorbed by the skin will put you in a hospital gurney and may cost you your life. However, they have some medical uses and are mainly found in hospitals.
Also, in some states to the west, the data suggests there has been a decline or the problem has stayed the same. This is viewed as a testament to the divide between the powdered heroin that is seen east of the Mississippi River and the Mexican black tar found in the west; which together comprise the heroin market. This may have limited the deaths to one portion of the market, but once the production shifts fentanyl will change with it. Because there is barely any difference between heroin and opioid addictions, this is a likely outcome. By then, the entire nation will already be at risk.
Decriminalizing Drugs: More Information
You can read more about decriminalizing drugs here. There are many cases to be made for both sides, and it is something that is going to need a lot of work if implemented. Some states have already decriminalized marijuana, but the effort the United Nations is asking for decriminalizes much more than that. It is something that will require more research and tuning, no matter which side you are on. What we do know is that drug crime is on the rise and there has to be a better solution for our nation’s drug epidemic.