The Meaning of Decriminalization: Don't Imprison Addicts

I’m always wary about commenting on other people’s personal tragedies, but the confused logic of a recent editorial in the Denver Post cries out for critical thought.  Jim Spencer (no relation) talks of his brother’s untimely demise at the hands of alcoholism and heroin use, and starts his piece with this quote: 

We buried my brother earlier this year on his 56th birthday, roughly 41 years after I watched him take his first drink.  I don't recall seeing my brother smoke pot on his way to chronic alcoholism, heroin addiction and a compulsion for painkillers that once led him to steal a prescription pad from our family doctor.  Though he probably smoked some dope, addiction helped kill my brother, not any single kind of drug.  

The Op-Ed piece goes on to outline the writer’s opposition to Colorado’s Amendment 44, which would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession for adults 21 and over.

 

But, let’s take a closer look at that initial statement of facts.  Doesn’t it argue against the “gateway theory” that we hear espoused (on our dime) by the Drug Czar every day?

 

Addiction comes in many forms, and is often either physically or psychologically lethal.  But the real question is this: should we solve that problem by incarcerating the addict?  That's what our current drug policy mandates.

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