Opinion | Cautions as We Move Beyond the War on Drugs

More from our inbox:

To the Editor:

Re “How Should We Do Drugs Now?,” by Michael Pollan (Sunday Review, July 11):

Mr. Pollan rightly applauds the nation’s turn away from the drug war and its many toxic effects. Unfortunately, he has little to say about the ravages caused by the drugs themselves. From his article, it’s hard to tell that America has for years been in the grip of a devastating opioid epidemic and that it’s getting worse. In 2020, a record 93,000 people died from drug overdoses — nearly 30 percent more than in 2019.

Overdose deaths involving cocaine increased by about a quarter, while those involving methamphetamine and other psychostimulants rose by about a third. Meanwhile, treatment and prevention services remain in excruciatingly short supply in many parts of the country.

In addition to ending the drug war, we need to undertake a national campaign against drug abuse. The money saved from arresting and incarcerating offenders should be invested in a massive expansion of residential programs, outpatient facilities, intake centers, mobile outreach units, quick-action naloxone teams, needle-exchange programs, medical dispensaries, vocational training and housing. Drug abuse constitutes a public health emergency, and we should start treating it like one.

Michael Massing
New York
The writer is the author of “The Fix,” a book about U.S. drug policy.

To the Editor:

Michael Pollan is risking a public health tragedy by suggesting ways in which we could all be enjoying the recreational benefits of mind-altering drugs. A lot of people, especially the young and emotionally troubled, will be hurt by drug use.

While it may be well and good for wealthy retired senior citizens to seek spiritual affirmation in exclusive spa centers, encouraging the use of mind-altering drugs by the rest of the population facing the everyday reality of life’s challenges is another matter entirely.

I hope patient and family advocacy groups will pay attention, realize that this could harm their loved ones and speak up against it.

Stanley N. Caroff
Moorestown, N.J.
The writer is emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

To the Editor:

Michael Pollan argues that the United States can begin to “glimpse an end to the drug war.” He envisions a “drug peace” where drug use is largely controlled by medical oversight and cultural practice. There are significant merits to his arguments and those that stem from the renaissance in psychedelic appreciation.

However, it’s highly overstated to think we are anywhere near the end of the war on drugs domestically, and we’re nowhere close internationally. It is imperative that we do not cement a reality where a small group of the affluent can benefit from the powerful healing offered by some drugs, while other drugs continue to be demonized and their users shoulder the weight of the racist criminal justice system.

The deployment of “drugs” to supposedly justify the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Philando Castile shows just how much the war is still upon us. In 2019, more than 1.3 million Americans were arrested on drug possession charges. Of the approximately 11 million people incarcerated globally, over 20 percent are held on a drug charge.

Organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union are working diligently to fix this utterly broken system. But we’re facing a long road before we find “drug peace,” especially for people who continue to pay the highest costs across the globe — communities of color.

Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
Montclair, N.J.
The writer is director of the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Program.

Reflections on the Olympics as the Games Near

To the Editor:

Re “Has the Time Come to Let the Games Be Gone?” (front page, July 18):

The Olympics should be held every four years in a permanent setting. Perhaps Greece, where they began, would be a good choice.

Participating countries could share in the upkeep of the venue and have oversight and representation in the operation. It is economically wasteful and harmful to the environment to construct all that is needed to hold the Games in a different place each time.

The basic ideal of athletic competition seems to have been lost. The question is whether it is possible to have an effective, honest International Olympic Committee.

Can we not at least have an athletic competition without the usual politics, economic avarice and nationalism? Young people who are dedicated to the training and effort that go into becoming Olympic athletes deserve better.

Barbara Adams
Chevy Chase, Md.

To the Editor:

The world needs to be constantly reminded that we are one: one humanity, one aspiration to improve, one aspiration to transcend and one spiritual existence that offers inspiration to one another.

The Olympic Games manifest this beautiful and necessary spirit for all to see, through the athletes’ accomplishments, and definitively demonstrate that with the inner light of willpower, progress can be achieved individually and collectively.

Papaha Jeff Gosline
San Diego

Where the Supreme Court Is Predictable

To the Editor:

Re “With 3 Trump Picks, a Conservative Court That’s Hard to Pin Down” (The Morning, July 6):

There are four legal matters that the six conservative Supreme Court justices are guaranteed to strike down every time: anything to do with union rights, voting rights, class-action lawsuits and campaign financing laws.

Stephen Schlesinger
New York
The writer is a fellow at the Century Foundation.

Source: Read Full Article