By Daniel Robelo
It’s now common knowledge that the war on drugs has failed. But not all people are equally affected. Black and Latino communities continue to suffer the brunt of the drug war in the U.S., while Latin American communities are among the most impacted by U.S.-led drug war policies.
The Drug Policy Alliance has produced a suite of bilingual fact sheets that address these issues. Here are eight takeaways from our materials about how screwed up the drug war is, and what we’re doing to dismantle it:
The Drug War Disproportionately Targets Blacks and Latinos. Rates of drug use and sales are more or less equal across racial and ethnic lines, but drug law enforcement overwhelming targets black and Latino communities. Such outrageous disparities show that drug use does not discriminate, but our drug laws sure do.
The Drug War Drives Mass Deportation. The drug war has increasingly become a war against migrant communities. It fuels racial profiling, border militarization, violence against immigrants, and intrusive government surveillance. More than 40,000 people are deported from the U.S. every year for drug law violations.
The DEA: A Symbol of Corruption and Abuse in the Drug War. With the DEA head’s recent resignation after years of repeated scandals, it’s important not to lose sight of the much deeper, institutional rottenness of the agency itself, its long history of trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries, especially in Latin America, and how it represents everything wrong with the war on drugs.
Women are Increasingly Victims of the Drug War. While most of the people behind bars for drugs are men, more and more women are falling victim to the war on drugs. Black and Latina women are far more likely to be criminalized, to have their kids taken from them, or to be denied fundamental rights and privileges because of the drug war than white women.
Preventing Overdose, Saving Lives. Overdose deaths rates more than doubled between 1999 and 2013. Almost 44,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2013 – an average of 120 people a day. While prescription opioid overdose deaths are still most common, the number of heroin overdoses has increased in recent years, and emerging evidence indicates Latinos may be at elevated risk.
Many of these deaths are preventable. Distributing the overdose antidote naloxone to people who may witness an overdose, and adopting 911 Good Samaritan Immunity policies, which essentially decriminalize drug possession and certain other offenses at the scene of an overdose, will save lives.
Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay, Colorado, Washington…and Beyond. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana for personal use. Colorado and Washington voted to legalize and regulate marijuana in 2012. These jurisdictions are showing the world that another way is possible.
Medical Marijuana. One of the most egregious aspects of marijuana prohibition is that many seriously ill people cannot legally access the medicine that works best for them. Twenty-three states, along with Guam, Washington DC, and, Puerto Rico, have legalized the use of marijuana for qualifying patients.
Realistic Drug Education. Most drug education is based on misinformation, half-truths, distortions, abstinence-only ideologies, zero-tolerance policies and general nonsense. Teens see right through this. DPA’s pioneering booklet Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs provides parents with the tools they need to honestly discuss realistic strategies for protecting their teenagers from the harms of drug misuse.
Check out our full collection of extensively researched fact sheets and position papers for more information about these and other issues that impact Latinos.
Daniel Robelo is the research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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Author: Daniel Robelo
Date Published: June 9, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance
Via:: Ddrug Policy Alliance