Massachusetts Drug Offenses: Let’s Get Smart Helping Offenders, not Tough

Readers of this blog will notice that there has been quite a gap since my last  published post here, on March 17, about Massachusetts drug defendants no longer being subjected to having their Massachusetts drivers’ licenses suspended, for having a prior drug conviction.  The reasons for the gap in posts have been that several posts that had been published since March 17 have recently been taken down due to some technical errors.  My apologies, and so let’s get things back to current.

My post today has to do with a topic that my readers know well:  The utter, abysmal, pathetic and shameful failure that has been what politicians and government types have for over 50 years now called the “War on Drugs.”  Idealized in its infancy and first iterations, it sounded great, didn’t it?  The federal government, handing out billions of dollars to themselves and state & local police agencies, would arrest every single “drug user,” “drug dealer,” and anyone in between – all in the name of a “safer,” “healthier” society.  What did this “war” – which has cost taxpayers hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”,) ever produce?  Most prominently, it:

  • Funneled billions & billions of our taxpayer dollars into government and law enforcement payrolls, for DEA, ATF, and state & local police payrolls.
  • Dragged millions of non-dangerous, non-violent citizens into court, where many lives were forever ruined due “drug convictions.”
  • Filled our federal, state and local prisons and jails to overcapacity – leaving little room for truly violent criminals.

No, these aren’t just my opinions, as a Boston drug offenses attorney. In the event that anyone is inclined to see bias in my views, I can assure them:  I’m in courts across eastern Massachusetts every day.  I see living, breathing proof of this on a regular basis.  I’d  also suggest that anyone who doubts the accuracy of my opinions to take a long look at an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP.)  This organization is made up of current and former police and law enforcement officials, who know better than anyone that making drugs illegal only produces three primary outcomes:  1) It creates drug cartels and black markets; 2) It fills our courts and jails with nonviolent citizens; and 3) It provides almost zero treatment for drug users, and worse – once these convicts are released back into the community, they have almost zero re-entry assistance.  The result?  Almost 90% of released drug convicts relapse – re-creating the very problems that landed them in jail in the first place:  A largely forgotten population, re-victimized by the very law enforcement, judicial and corrections systems that promised us a “safer,”  “healthier” society from this failed war.

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again – while expecting a different, better result.  By this measure and many others, the “War on Drugs” – both past and present – is insane, and always has been.  It lines the pockets of two primary groups:  1) Federal and state drug law enforcement agencies and their bloated personnel and bureaucracies; and 2) Organized drug dealers.

A new film had been produced, showing just how insane this process is, and in particular, how few resources are directed to drug convicts once they are released from custody, and return to their communities.  The film is called “Beyond The Wall”, and I suggest that each person reading this blog see this film.  We must change how we approach the issue of drug use – both in this state and in this country.   Change starts with one person, speaking to another, and another, until ripples form into waves – waves that can bring down the walls of entrenched resistance to abandoning this failed “War on Drugs.”  It’s up to all of us.  And that means you.  Let your federal and state legislators – the people that get their jobs and salaries from you and who work for you – know that the “War on Drugs” has to end, and drug treatment for drug users has to start, now.