Everything is wrong here with Biden’s “Forced Rehabilitation” plan for drug reform


While recent talks about cannabis legislation have been a little more hopeful, it seems pretty obvious that President Joe Biden is not a die-hard proponent of full legalization of the plant.

In fact, in the 1980s, Biden was very involved in the war on drugs, and cannabis in particular, and helped draft numerous laws that would imprison nonviolent drug offenders at low levels for years. Not much had changed in his opinion by 2010, and he can be quoted as saying, “There is a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalize. The punishment should match the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug. “

Another decade later, Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States at a time when cannabis legalization is an incredibly polarizing topic in many ways: economic, social, and health institutions all have a huge stake in the industry. At the very least, Biden seems to have accepted that cannabis legalization is inevitable, and even mentioned that he thinks “it’s at the point where it basically needs to be legalized”.

However, he sticks to his stance in favor of decriminalization versus full legalization. But as we already know from the many states that have already tried, decriminalization is a completely pointless step between prohibition and legalization, which allows for too strong an “interpretation” of the law.

For example, in a decriminalized state, a police officer can take your cannabis, punish you, and send you to court, where your case will be discarded if it meets the criteria for a legally decriminalized amount. So you don’t have the money you spent on flowers that remains confiscated, the city doesn’t get any money from your fines for being thrown in court, and the whole ordeal is a mega waste of time for everyone involved.

Regardless, Biden supports this. And he not only contradicts most US citizens who have wanted cannabis legalization for years, but also puts him against the majority of his own political party. That year, with the Democrats in control of the Senate, leadership promised to pass sweeping cannabis reform law within its first year in office. To keep that promise, Joe Biden proposed a plan for mandatory rehabilitation instead of jail / jail time for nonviolent drug abusers. The idea might sound good on paper, but it is 100% wrong and I want to tell you why.

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The compulsory rehab offer

Cannabis has been illegal in the US for nearly a century, and as a result, thousands of people have been wrongly detained for totally nonviolent crimes, and this has remained the case to this day. This puts even more emphasis on the importance of passing comprehensive cannabis reform laws.

New laws couldn’t come soon enough, but with any kind of significant legal change in a country with millions of people, there will undoubtedly be some problems that need to be addressed in the beginning. Many details go into creating a successful cannabis market – such as social justice, interstate trade, home growing, racial justice, business zoning, and so on.

Another important topic is the legislation for the newly legal product. It’s “legal”, yes, but for whom? And what amounts are legal? And who can sell it and how much? Where can it be grown and where can products be made? The list goes on. However, dealing with people who do not adhere to the established guidelines is of the utmost importance.

According to President Biden, “no one convicted of a drug crime should go to jail; they should go to compulsory rehabilitation,” he said at a campaign rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin late last year. “Instead of building more prisons … we [should] Build rehabilitation centers. “

On the surface, it seems like a logical option rather than sending someone to jail. However, the question arises whether judicial rehab is compulsory. What if the person doesn’t complete the program? Or what if they don’t show up at all? Most likely, they will go to jail. While it seems like a reasonable way for people to potentially avoid jail, it is likely that large numbers of people are still serving time, often based on arbitrary and unrealistic standards that patients must meet before graduation can their treatment programs.

In fact, a 2017 report by the Doctors for Human Rights group found that drug courts and rehab programs “routinely fail participants”. The report continued: “Drug courts in the United States routinely fail to provide adequate, medically sound treatment for substance use disorders. Treatment plans are sometimes designed and supported by people with little to no medical training. Few communities have adequate treatment facilities, insurance plans often fail to fund effective treatment programs, and the criminal goals of drug courts often override the patient’s medical needs in ways that endanger the rights and health of participants. “

Skewed data and shady practices in rehab across the country

While some proponents of the Drugs Court claim the programs are a success, the actual data presented is somewhat skewed – starting with the fact that many of them are funded by privately owned, for-profit entities that appear to have a vested interest in seeing more patients and then more funding. In addition, many of the studies rely on the effectiveness of rehab programs by comparing them to prisons. By these standards, it’s no surprise that people in rehab facilities get slightly better results than people incarcerated in prison.

It is also not uncommon for drug judges to use the same discriminatory practices that we see in our regular justice system. Knowing that the programs will be rated based on a recovery rate, they often select participants who they believe will be most likely to complete the program successfully. to wholly gloss over the marginalized groups of people who can actually benefit most from a legitimate treatment program.

And that brings us to another problem with rehab facilities. Are they legit? So many programs have been charged with unethical, unsafe practices, and outright abuse. Take the infamous treatment program from the 1980s known as Straight, Inc. They demonized the occasional cannabis use and urged parents to send children who have tried to their facilities.

The investigation found that minors in their program were “routinely exposed to unusual punishments, pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, compulsion, threats, mental abuse … and disturbances in daily life functions such as eating, sleeping and toilet. Needless to say, all facilities eventually closed, but there are many more that continue to abuse their patients, causing more problems and lifelong problems than they will ever resolve.

Straight, Inc. founders Mel and Betty Sembler took the vast fortune they had amassed to set up their own organization – the Drug Free America Foundation. With their foundation, they funded numerous anti-cannabis campaigns and currently remain important fundraisers for the Republican Party. Overall, Straight, Inc. is the perfect example of how a rehab facility (or the owners) can get rich if they do absolutely nothing and then use that money in a completely selfish way. For them, making cannabis illegal was not about helping teens or improving the community, it was about filling their pockets and getting as rich as possible.

Overcrowding in already congested facilities

At this time, the Biden government’s plans for forced rehabilitation are not yet concrete, but it is already the practice in many states where cannabis is still illegal, especially in the southern United States. There’s an obvious problem with forcing people into rehab when they don’t need it: it leaves less room for the people who actually do it.

This country is already in a national opioid crisis and, alarmingly, the number of deaths from overdose has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a study published this month by the American Medical Association, “The country’s opioid epidemic has grown into a much more complicated and deadly overdose epidemic … More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well of ongoing concerns in people with a mental illness or substance use disorder. “

More than 81,000 people died in 2020, compared with just under 71,000 in the previous year. People seek help and try to be taken to appropriate rehab facilities, but there is simply no room for many of them. In most states, rehab waiting lists are 18 months long, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people are desperately waiting for treatment. Statistics have shown that most people are removed from the list after around 2 weeks.

According to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50% of all cannabis users receiving treatment have been sent there by the courts or the criminal justice system. Less than 20% checked in voluntarily.

Final thoughts

According to numerous studies over the past decade that measured the addictive qualities of various substances, cannabis rates are lower than alcohol, tobacco, and even caffeine. That’s not to say you can’t get addicted to cannabis because you totally can (and before you bite my head off, I’ve met people who would spend their rent and groceries on a pot, which is a problem).

For some people, therapy and rehab could be beneficial. However, it is completely illogical to force someone without an addiction problem to choose between prison and rehab, and it is by no means a “comprehensive” drug reform. and it is even wrong for Biden to see this as a possibility for cannabis users.

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Beth Edmonds