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Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid epidemic is discussed in the media every day now. Every week, money is being proposed to help end the prescription pill and heroin addiction crisis. In addition, marijuana reform has continues to be a controversial topic in legislation.

Drug policy has never been a hotter topic but you wouldn’t have guessed that from watching last week’s republican debate.  Only a handful of candidates mentioned anything about drugs and drug policies, and when the topic was brought up, the specifics were lacking.

Republicans on Drug Policy

Here is a brief overview of the under ten-minute discussion on drug policy.

  • Rand Paul (R-KY) in the past has spoken in favor of drug policy reform. In the debate, he said there was a need for more rehabilitation and less incarceration. He delve in a bit deeper than the other candidates by making note of the intersection between race and drug policy. He stated, “I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome and it’s something that’s really damaged our inner cities.” In terms of marijuana reform, Rand Paul stated he did not believe the federal government should override state policies citing the Tenth Amendment for limitation on federal powers.
  • Jab at Jeb: Jeb Bush was scrutinized for his former pot smoking days by Rand Paul when he stated, ““There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.”
    Jeb Bush responded that Rand Paul was talking about him. “He’s talking about me,” he admitted.
  • Jeb Bush- Speaking of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor mentioned the heroin problem in New Hampshire. He went on to endorse drug treatment through drug court bragging on how his state Florida has the highest amount of them than any other state.
  • Chris Christie– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie touched on drug policy reform stating it was a “pro-life issue” saying the life of a 16-year-old drug addict incarcerated is important. He also went on to exampling how New Jersey’s approach on drug policy is working.
  • Carly Fiorina- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina put in her opinion on the dangers of marijuana abuse:

“We are misleading young people,” she said, “when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It’s not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.”

She took the matter to a personal level when she mentioned how she and her husband “buried a child to drug addiction.”

All in all, drug policies took up at most 10 minutes of the three-hour debate. Not a very eye-opening conversation on a disease that is killing lives day after day. Hopefully clear policies and funding will be proposed to combat this serious epidemic.

Some—like Paul—have made drug policy a regular talking point however clear policy proposals have yet to be announced by most of the candidates like they have by some of the democratic candidates. Hillary Clinton just announced a 10 billion dollar plan to combat addiction a short while ago.

Close to 8% of Americans ages 12 and older use illegal drugs and around 20% are using prescription drugs for non-medical uses. Of the adult population, 10% say they used to have a substance abuse problem and do not anymore.

This is an issue that affects everyone. Whether you struggle with addiction or know someone who does, drug addiction is taking lives without discrimination.

Substance abuse should be getting the attention is deserves. Hopefully the discussion on drug policies will gain priority in the upcoming months. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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