How the War on Drugs has warped priorities and ruined lives for 50 years

We're passing the post on the 50th Anniversary of the start of the War on Drugs. After enduring 50 years of the War on Drugs and witnessing its devastating effects on our communities, we feel it is important to change this policy now and pursue a public health and harm reduction approach. Join us to make change in this crucial area.

PM's Drug Policy Task Force -- a path back from a Forever War

 

We're passing the post on the 50th Anniversary of the start of the War on Drugs. After enduring 50 years of the War on Drugs and witnessing its devastating effects on our communities, we feel it is important to change this policy now and pursue a public health and harm reduction approach. Progressive Maryland activists and leaders discussed the harm that the War on Drugs has done to our liberties, communities, and families at our town hall last week. You can tune in to the recording here to learn about the harmful impacts the War on Drugs has had on our communities -- as we continue the conversation.

 

Reviewing the history of the War on Drugs we can see how the potential for harm of drug abuse was twisted by political figures to deform our society and impose

racialized political divisions for electoral advantage.

 

On June 17, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon, playing on fears of the uncertainty of many American voters surrounding race uprisings and demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, declared a “War on Drugs.”  As a result of the declaration of “war,” the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to target anti-war protesters for the use of marijuana and Black people for use of heroin. The global War on Drugs has influenced how the public and the government look at people who are addicts. Later, disparate sentencing guidelines for varieties of cocaine that had different levels of use in different communities further racialized the enforcement and penalties for sale and use and created the US's massive disparity in incarcerations and sentencing. It has been an embarrassment, and is racist and ineffective for any reasonable attempt to keep the American people safe.

 

On January 13th of this year, a report from Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center and the Maryland Department of Health found that there was a 12% increase in overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier: 2,025 versus 1,806 in 2019. Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) and supervised consumption treatment plans for individuals, which are the most effective interventions for reducing the risk of overdose. OPS sites, which are staffed by health-care professionals, ought to be the number one priority in the State of Maryland, and available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

 

Over the last 50 years, the United States has spent trillions of dollars to eradicate drugs and drug use. The United States drug policies never look at the big picture approach to the problem of drug overdoses. There has been too much focus on arresting drug dealers and not enough on treating the addiction that made drug dealing such a lucrative business. There is a better way, anhd the Progressivb3e Maryland Drug Policy Task Force has a road map to get us out of this misguided path.

 

Our Vision:

Progressive Maryland Drug Policy Taskforce envisions a society where there is equal opportunity for the health, dignity, and safety of people targeted by the war on drugs. We believe that harm reduction is a part of a broader movement for racial and social justice.

Our Mission:

The Progressive Maryland Drug Policy Task Force aims to alleviate the societal damage of both substance abuse and prohibition by increasing resources and establishing overdose prevention sites. We seek to empower Maryland residents with harm reduction-based education, policy platforms to fight for drug policy reform and therefore embody a community that cares about all of its people.  To advocate for drug policies to expand harm reduction across the state of Maryland.

We seek to empower Maryland residents to be proactive in changing drug policies or legislation that address drug-related harms, reduce overdose deaths, reduce crime and incarceration rates, and establish Overdose Prevention Sites to meet our urgent public health crisis

Our Goals:

  • Decriminalize all illicit substances 
  • Establish Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) - a model for the country in treating drug use
  • Legalization of Marijuana
  • Decrimalization of Paraphernalia
  • Educate about the Availability of Nasal Narcan 
  • Increase our Network and/or other harm reduction organizations
  • Connect with members that fight for social and racial equality
  • Collaborate with PM's Justice and Re-Entry Task Force
  • Collaborate with Mental health organizations