How Much of a Disaster Will Trump's Drug Policies Be?
In a world with President Trump, what can we expect in the next term for drug policies. Will drug policies affect you?This article originally appeared on Vice
As part of an endless flood of post-mortem election analysis, journalists and researchers recently began noticing a striking correlation between high local rates of opioid overdose deaths (and other indicators of despair and poor health) and a shift in swing state voters from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.
Which makes it bitterly ironic that these voters may ultimately prove responsible for unleashing the greatest threat to drug policy reform in recent history. While it remains far from clear where, exactly, the Trump administration will take us, the era of slow but real progress away from absolute criminalization of drugs has likely come to a halt.
During the Obama years, a surprisingly bipartisan consensus on drug policy began to take shape, rejecting first the rhetoric and then key components of the actual drug war of the 80s and 90s. Politicians and even police chiefs began to accept that harsh mandatory minimums fill prisons rather than fighting drugs. Across the country and the political divide, many took to repeating the mantra that there's no way to " arrest ourway out of" drug problems.
In recent years, at least 32 states have passed Good Samaritan laws to protect people who save the lives of overdose victims from prosecution for minor drug crimes. Thefederal ban on funding for needle exchange finally toppled, and state, local and federal efforts have dramatically increased the availability of the overdose reversal drug, naloxone.
At least 21 cities or other localities are setting up or actually running programs to stop arresting low-level drug suspects and offer them voluntary access to services like housing and treatment. And this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has never previously backed off on efforts to ban substances, did so (at least temporarily) in the face of intense opposition to its attempt to prohibit kratom, an herb that many people take for pain or to treat opioid addiction.