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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Squirrel vs Dog - Unleashing our drug laws

The title of the article might have been about the so called  surprising results from Portugal's decriminalization of drugs. I can't say I'm very surprised at all. In fact, it's about time we address the astonishing cost, both financially and in human lives, of our war on drugs.

Our country's relentless frontal attack on the problem reminds me of animal behavior classes I took years ago. A dog on a leash, seeing a treat, will tug on its chain to try to reach its goal, even if the chain is snagged on a pole. It might try to dig, claw, bark, but it never looks back to see that the chain is caught and never addresses the root cause of its problem.

A squirrel on the other hand will, if chained, look around, move backwards, climb, scramble, go backwards even to find a way to get to its treat. It will usually figure a way to correct the chain's problem and get to its treat.

Portugal looked at the drug problem, stepped back and found a compassionate AND cost-effective way to  address the issue. It reduced the number of people shackled by drug issues, and showed that relentlessness does not have to be the same as a direct frontal assault. Our countries spends billions on attacking drugs with full force head-on, without the same thoughtful, comprehensive approach. It's the club rather than the protractor approach, and it's clear that it isn't working.

As in the movie "Up", it's time we yell a collective "POINT" and help this dog of a drug policy around its blinders, and instead lead it towards a more compassionate, comprehensive, successful strategy. We need a real solution that respects the value of all the people caught in the chains of drug addiction.

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