Many policymakers are debating whether the so-called war on drugs in the United States that has been going on continuously for more than 40 years, has produced its intended results. Many drug users have changed their drug of choice to prescription painkillers rather than illegal substances.
The American response to the sale of illegal drugs has been to increase the number of law enforcement officers in narcotic divisions. This possibly has resulted in more drug charges for individuals allegedly using such illegal substances has cocaine (though even this is debatable), but Americans are now increasingly taking more prescription painkillers and stimulants.
No doubt, the prescription drug problem is real as more people have died from overdoses of prescription drugs in recent years than from all illegal drugs combined. Also, while arrests for the use of illegal drugs mostly took place in large metropolitan areas such as Baltimore or Washington, D.C., prescription drugs can be abused in the smaller towns located in Montgomery County.
Since law enforcement officers have already had such a difficult time fighting the illegal drug trade that has increasingly led to drug trafficking in Mexico, it’s difficult to understand how authorities intend to fight a problem that is largely fueled by medications being sold across the counter. Arresting individuals for using or possessing prescription drugs could well turn out to be arbitrary seeing that many people possess such substances legally.
Attorneys that defend individuals accused of possessing or using drugs will fight any arrest that was based upon a vague or imprecise statute. Such attorneys will also hold prosecutors accountable for proving that the activity charged is just.
Legislative effort to fight drug abuse has to be based on more than throwing people in jail.
Source: The New York Times, “Rise in Pill Abuse Forces New Look at U.S. Drug Fight,” by Michael S. Schmidt, July 16, 2012