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Access Isn’t the Issue
Approaches to drug use, access, and addiction vary around the world. In recent years, several countries have pushed for the removal of drug prohibition laws to promote decriminalization, ensure responsible use, and provide treatment for addiction. Proponents of drug reform claim that the criminalization of drugs does not translate into lesser rates of addiction or abuse. They specifically point to the experiences of countries that have decriminalized (or legalized some) drugs while investing in drug treatment, rehabilitation, and harm reduction programs. The successful experiences of these countries have led many to rethink the United States’ war on drugs, which has done little to curb drug use. In the United States, the war on drugs has been criticized for contributing to the burgeoning prison population, disproportionately targeting and incarcerating African Americans, and ultimately failing to stem drug use. Critics claim policies favoring incarceration over treatment have done little. With opioid addiction and abuse reaching epidemic levels, calls for a greater focus on addressing drug abuse via a public health approach have increased. The continued legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes across the US has also raised hopes for wider drug reform policies.
War on Drugs Still Unresolved