Drug abuse is major problem across the globe. The US has a big multicultural population, flexible immigration laws, liberalism, and lies in major drug transit route. These issues have made the US a big target for drug production, trade, and consumption (Hakim, 4). The federal government initiated laws and agencies to fight drug use and trade. However, dynamics in the trade, human rights issues, scientific research, economic constraints, shifting international relations, and several other policy issues have compelled the government to rethink its stand on policies regarding drugs in the country.
Major policy issues in drug Use in US
The main policy issues in the US drug policies are those grounded in compassion, science, human rights, and health issues. These include the reformation of marijuana laws. The policies need to appreciate that patients need their rights to use medical marijuana. The laws against the abuse of marijuana need to replace marijuana prohibition with regulation (Hesselroth, 47). The other major policy issue is the injustice that authorities have used to stigmatize, marginalize, and criminalize millions of Americans.
Other major drug policy issues include the protection of the youth and the vulnerable populations from recruitment into drug use and trade cartels. Moreover, some issues address relationships between violent crime and drug use and therefore come up with policies to address the problems. The other policy issues include the defense of personal liberties with human rights activists arguing that no one should be punished for what they put into their bodies absent harm to others (Weimer, 12). In addition, issues about the economic sense of drug fighting come up in the formulation and the development of drug policies in the US. Since drug use is a global issue, the US policies on the same address how the drug abuse menace can be addressed with the aim of achieving global reform.
Government efforts in addressing drug policy issues
The US government is doing a lot in addressing the policy issues, its populace has voiced. The US government has established bodies to address many of the policy issues regarding drug use. Firstly, the government has established the Office of the National Drug Control Policy under the office of the president (Kilmer, 13). The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 established this body. Through the body, the Obama Administration has committed itself to restore balance in drug control efforts and the employment of a public health and safety approach to reduce drug use and its consequences. Through the ONDCP, the government uses early intervention programs in healthcare settings, community-based prevention programs, as well as aligning criminal justice policies to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of incarcerations (Hesselroth, 48). The government is also expanding access to treatment if substance abuse and funding scientific research on drug use.
The government is also supporting the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in its latest drug abuse treatment program called “Seeking Drug Abuse treatment: Know what to ask”. This program addresses how individuals and families struggling with addictions can make informed choices and overcome drug use dependence (Hakim, 14). The US government is also supporting state government as well as private and community agencies that address drug issues. These agencies collect drug policy issues from the public; channel them to the relevant authorities and address those that are within their capabilities. As such, the US government has taken a key role in addressing the drug policy issues in the country.
Government's actions in addressing drug use
The US government has made significant strides in addressing drug issues in the country and on the global scale. The government’s action is evident through the various bodies that it has created to address drug issues. These bodies include the ONDCP, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) among many others (Hesselroth, 48). In addition to the national government is addressing drug issues from a strategic point such as prevention of drug abuse at the school level through the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe, and Drug-Free Schools. The government supports these and numerous other agencies.
The government has also embedded drug policies in the constitution through the enactment of drug acts such as the Controlled Substances Act, the Drug-Free schools and Communities act of 1989 as well as The Regulate, Control and Tax cannabis Act among many others. The laws and agencies have helped to regulate and significantly reduce drug abuse in the US. For instance, in 1979 the US had 25 million people used an illegal drug within 30 days before an annual survey was conducted (Weimer, 23). In 2001, illegal drug use had reduced to 16 million people going by that survey. According to Weimer rates of drug use are roughly half the levels witnessed in the late 1970s and early 1980s (24). Constraints have included globalization, which has increased movement of people, and illegal trade, porosity of the borders to illegal trade, increased immigration that opens up the country to drug cartels and corruption that has allowed drug trade to flourish in some areas.
Major contemporary challenges in drug policies
The contemporary challenges to drug policies and the general fight against drug have increased by the day. They include the issue of human rights violations where some people feel that the government should not punish for what they use as long as they do not harm others. This creates ambiguities and tug-of-wars between the public and relevant authorities. The other challenge is the rise of strong and intricate international drug cartels that target the US as their main market. It becomes challenging for the US drug enforcement agencies to enforce their laws outside of the US (Kilmer, 21). In addition, there are challenges on the economy with some people and opposition criticizing the huge budgetary allocations given to the fight against drugs.
Other contemporary challenges include the difficulties in establishing facts about drug abuse and medical usage of some chemicals. For instance, research has established that marijuana can have some medical uses and as such, policies to address it should not prohibit its usage but regulate it. The more scientists and researchers conduct drug usage, the more the controversies they raise by asking for regulation instead of prohibition. These contemporary issues have posed a big challenge to formulation of drug policies as well as implementation of the existing policies.
Solutions to drug use and trade
Several solutions exist to ensure that the government is able to respond to the drug problem satisfactorily. First, the government should intensify drug education so that the society tackles the problem actively through prevention rather than passively through the justice and law enforcement systems (Kilmer, 26; Hesselroth, 48). Prevention entails supporting and educating vulnerable populations such as teenagers on the dangers of involving themselves in drug abuse. It also entails supporting Drug Rehabilitation Requirements for those using drugs in criminal justice system. These efforts reduce the demand of illicit drugs, which is an effective solution to the challenges explained above.
Secondly, the government and the relevant agencies should restrict the supply of drugs. The empowerment and rejuvenation of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to combat drug trafficking and supply would be a welcome solution to the drug fight. The government should redeploy or sack law enforcement officials who aid drug barons to transact their drug trade. Addressing internet sale of drugs, increased checks on imports and intensification of intelligence to seize drug traders and traffickers are all very effective solutions that restrict the supply of drugs (Hakim, 22).
Thirdly, the government should address issues of housing, employment, and social welfare because they lead to people involving themselves in drug trade. Addressing these issues holistically is an excellent solution to the contemporary drug issues.
The most feasible solution to drug use and trade
The most feasible way of addressing the drug issues would be the preventive strategies to drug use. The drug laws that focused on changing public attitudes are the best because they are comprehensive and sustainable. Prohibition of production, trade, and consumption of drugs had failed and all there is now is a push for attitude changes among the populace. Authorities should treat drug use and addiction as a health concern rather than a criminal activity. This way the focus to ensure a drug-free society shifts from law enforcement and into treatment and prevention. If the authorities manage to eliminate the demand for drug, the drug cartels and trade will die naturally and so will the whole chain. As such, the “killing” of the drug market is the ultimate way of tackling the drug menace. Stakeholders can replicate and teach effective education on drugs use in school curriculums to ensure sustainability of the prevention mechanisms.
Models/typologies that best capture the drug policy sector
The models that best capture the policy sector in respect to drug use in the US are; age of onset of drug abuse or dependence, presence of antisocial personality disorders in drug abusers and the effects of drug abuse on gender roles (Hesselroth, 53). Other models include the associations of drug abuse and incidences of violent crimes or some form of a disease. These models compare concurrent and predictive validity of univariate typological approaches. All the typologies have a multivariate approach that subtypes drug dependence.
How this sector both similar to and different from three other public issues
This sector relates to immigration policies. The US has prohibited the usage of certain drugs and prohibitions of forced entry or illegal entry into the country relate to the prohibitions on the usage of those drugs. In the same manner that the government cannot fully prohibit drug trade because some drugs can be used for medicinal purposes, so can it not fully outlaw immigration (Weimer, 41). This is so because immigration is not purely destructive and it can provide cheap and skilled labor that is necessary for economic growth. The difference between these policy issues is that while immigration has direct influences on economic and issues, drug policies have direct effects on health, economic and social effects.
The other policy issue comparable to drug policies is abortion policies. The similarity of these two stems from the fact that both entail an individual doing something to their bodies that the state outlaws or regulates. The policy issues at stake bear on human rights and the rights to privacy and personal freedoms. The differences between the two is that while drug trades are intricate cartels with numerous parties to them, abortion policies are strictly about individuals and their personal rights.
The third policy issue comparable to drug policies is gun rights. In both cases, there is the licensure to deal in the said commodities (guns for self-defense, drugs for medicinal purposes). The use of either beyond the stipulated guidelines attracts criminal prosecution. The difference between these policy issues is that the control of guns can be effectively regulated by the state as compared to drug trade.
Hakim, Peter. "Rethinking US Drug policy ." The Dialogue. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://www.thedialogue.org/PublicationFiles/Rethinking%20US%20Drug%20Policy.pdf>.
Hesselroth, Alba. "Struggles of Security in US Foreign Drug Policy towards Andean Countries." Journal of Peace, Conflict, and Development 245.5 (2004): 45-54. Print.
Kilmer, Beau. The U.S. drug policy landscape insights and opportunities for improving the view. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2012. Print.
Weimer, Daniel. Seeing drugs modernization, counterinsurgency, and U.S. narcotics control in the Third World, 1969-1976. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2011. Print.