The United Nations General Assembly met for the first time in almost 20 years this week in New York. The special session was on the “World Drug Epidemic “and how to tackle the drug abuse happening worldwide. The U.N heard major differences on the approach to the drug use and how to address the global drug policy. America has had one common point of view on drugs in the past 20 years, since the Nixon administration the war on the drugs has been a priority. In order to fight the epidemic, The United States launched an all-out offensive attack. They arrested dealers and suppliers, cut off drug traffickers and locked up any and all drug users and treated them like criminals. With all their efforts, America is still dealing with a large epidemic on their hands. Has the war on drugs failed? This was one of the many questions on the minds of the people who watched the General Assembly. President Obama has started to shift toward a more human, public health approach to the drug policy and our justice system. For the first time since the 1980s, the federal government plans to spend more money on treatment and research than on law enforcement. The President has made clear that addressing this drug epidemic is a priority for his Administration. These actions show with Presidents Obamas new $1.1Billion plan to help fund every American with an opioid addiction or use disorder who wants treatment to get the help they need.
Presidents Obamas Plan for Expanding Treatment
- Increasing the number of doctors who can prescribe buprenorphine to 200, currently the limit is 100.
- Providing an additional $11 Million to increase access to Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.
- Establishing a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Party Task Force
- Ensuring that mental health and substance use benefits are offered as medical and surgical benefits for those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- A $7 Million initiative by the Department of Justice toward policing and investigating heroin distribution.
- Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services for federally funded needle exchange programs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. These Guidelines state that opioids should not be the first consideration for chronic pain, and the prescriber should first consider non-opioid pain relievers or non-drug alternatives such as exercise, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Other countries have different opinions on treating the drug epidemic.
Jamaica – Defended its decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. The government amended the Dangerous Drugs Act last year to give tickets for possession of less than two ounce of cannabis instead of making it a felony offense, and to legalize the sacramental use of marijuana by Rastafarians. Jamaica is currently finalizing a five-year national drug plan including programs to reduce demand for drugs, provide early intervention and treatment for drug users, and promote rehabilitation and social reintegration.
Canada – Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the government will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana next spring. Canada will ensure that marijuana is kept out of children’s hands, and will address the devastating consequences of drugs and the crimes that follow.
Indonesia – Ambassador Rachmat Budiman said a Zero Tolerance Approach is needed to suppress and eliminate the scourge of drugs. He mentioned that drug traffickers are using new “psychoactive substances “and the Internet to expand in all levels of society, including the younger generation.
Iran – Imposes the death penalty on all drug traffickers
The UNODC says more than 246 Million People use illicit drugs in the world. That’s roughly the population of the United States.