War on Drugs – huh, yeah, what is it good for?

Michele Kazatchkine, head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, has claimed that fighting the spread of AIDS, especially in countries outside of Africa, requires the de-criminalisation of drugs, since the illegal nature of intravenous drug injection, and the punitive stance towards addicts, endanger public health. He says

“A repressive way of dealing with drug users is a way of facilitating the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic…From a scientific perspective, I cannot understand the repressive policy perspective.”

I think is an under-statement. Drug policy is not just repressive, it is in many cases military. It’s not just that states focus on ‘punishment’ rather than saving lives, but that they focus on defeating and destroying the enemy force.

Someone who is punished is at least recognised as a community member, and their continued existence valued. But drugs policies often seem characterised by a deadliness and brutality that calls to mind more the attitude towards an enemy army or a hunted animal.

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