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Should we help drug addicts or just let them overdose?

There are two schools of thought.

Side note: This egg looks a lot tastier than the egg in the "This Is Your Brain On Drugs" commercial of 1987.

egg in frying pan.jpg

Old School

The first is the old school tough-on-crime mentality, which gave rise to Prohibition in the 1920s and to the Reagan-era "this is your brain on drugs" crackdown on possession of crack cocaine and other drugs in the 1980s. This school of thought holds that drug addicts are criminals who deserve punishment.

New School

The other school of thought is that which has led to Ohio's recent move toward legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. It also led to recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington State, among many other states that have either decriminalized marijuana use to some degree and/or legalized it for medical purposes. This school of thought holds that drug addicts are people who deserve care and treatment.

Is Drug Use a Matter of Personal Liberty?

The growing movement to end marijuana prohibition, as well as the bipartisan effort toward criminal justice reform, underscores the human element at stake: Is drug use a matter of personal liberty? If so, if a person does become addicted - much like a person might become addicted to cigarettes and alcohol - should we help rather than punish?

Ohio's New 'Good Samaritan' Law

As Nick Glunt reports for the Beacon Journal, Gov. John Kasich recently signed legislation that will provide immunity to those who call 911 for a friend or family member who has overdosed on a drug like heroin or prescription painkillers (as well as the friend or family member).

There are caveats to the law: You only get two bites at the immunity apple. You must undergo drug screenings. And you get immunity for minor possession, not sale or distribution. But the law clearly falls under the second school of thought: Drug addicts and those who overdose are people who deserve help, not punishment.

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