America is in the middle of a serious drug epidemic, and it is taking the lives of countless American children in places that we never expected to see drug addiction and dependency becoming a problem.
The sate of Vermont, for instance, has a serious heroin epidemic on its hands, and not even Bernie can stop it. It has gotten so bad in that state that the poor governor dedicated his entire State of the State address to the problem. And of course we all know that Vermont is not alone.
Contrast how president Obama is dealing with America's latest drug problem to how our government dealt with a similar problem having to do with drugs over 25 years ago. In fact, some would argue, the government actually created the problem for certain communities.
Back then it was incarceration and punishment. Now it's treatment and counseling. President Obama's war on drugs is gentler than previous ones, and I suspect that I know why.
Today's drug crises is being driven by heroin, and guess which demographic uses more heroin than everyone else? If you said young white kids, move to the head of the class.
The following is from the New York Times:
"When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different. While heroin use has climbed among all demographic groups, it has skyrocketed among whites; nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.
And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease." [Source]
Of course it's not a "crime". Crime would mean that something wrong is being done. Remember, as is damn near everything else in America, not all drug addictions are created equal.
So now we are collectively shocked that we have such a problem with drugs in our country. Now that drugs are in our children's bedrooms, and hidden in the back of the family mini vans, we are finally realizing that we have a problem. And we realize that it is a problem that can have a negative long lasting effect on society. You know, kind of like crack cocaine did with certain segments of the black population back in the day.
Of course their families will never recover, because their family members are serving long jail times for possessing small amounts of drugs, and there was no treatment offered to those who got hooked and couldn't get off until they were dead. The remedy for the drug epidemic facing black America then , was draconian punishment brought on by strict sentencing guidelines, and "tougher" law enforcement.
Quite a few politicians bolstered their careers by telling white America that they would keep them safe from the drugs those blacks were using and the type of people peddling them. (I see you Bill and Hillary) Now, I suspect. politicians will use the opposite tact to gain brownie points with voters as well. (I see you President Obama)
"At Courtney’s funeral, they decided to acknowledge the reality that redefined their lives: Their bright, beautiful daughter, just 20, who played the French horn in high school and dreamed of living in Hawaii, had been kicked out of the Marines for drugs. Eventually, she overdosed at her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house, where she died alone."
There are a lot of sad and tragic stories like Courtney's out there. Hopefully we will be smarter with the new war on drugs than we were the old one.
*Pic from youtube.com