It's now become acceptable for mainstream elected officials and candidates, as well as members of U.S. law enforcement, to say we can't "arrest our way out" of the nation's drug problem. In October, President Barack Obama started to talk more about the opioid epidemic, releasing a memo on public health approaches to solving America's drug problem, according to The Crime Report.
"For a long time I think treatment was seen as a second-class citizen to interdiction and arrest and incarceration. And that mindset needs to change,"Obama said at a panel on drug policy in West Virginia.
"The good news is we are seeing that mindset changing and it is on a bi-partisan basis, which I think is really interesting. We're putting an end to the old politics on this."
According to Diederik Lohman, associate director of Health and Human Rights division at Human Rights Watch,"Over the last year and a half or so, Obama has become much more engaged and outspoken -- and that has coincided with all the coverage of heroin overdoses and prescription painkiller overdoses that have affected white people as opposed to African Americans," he said.
"Combine that with Colorado and Washington voting to legalize marijuana, [and you find that] these changes in multiple areas have pretty significantly reshaped the environment in the U.S."
It's also become acceptable for public officials -- from police chiefs in major U.S. cities to presidential candidates from both major parties -- to say the decades-old "War on Drugs" has "failed." But while the rhetoric has clearly changed, decision-makers at the federal level have not embraced actual reforms aimed at ending that "war."
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