Here is my reaction to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s op-ed in today’s Keene Sentinel:

All of these “solutions” amount to locking the barn door after the horse gets out. What about addressing why people are self-medicating themselves in record numbers in the first place? Could it be a sort of mass depression with societal roots – that people simply have given up on their chances of success and happiness?

To really get a handle on the problem, let’s identify the root problem and then assign roles to the different layers of government and community groups.

On ground zero we have people who own neighborhood markets, kicking dealers out of their parking lots and posting notices encouraging people to become involved on a personal level. Friends and family members need to use tough love to discourage loved ones from going down the wrong path.

City level: Convince city officials and police to divert users instead of jailing them. Bring stakeholders like MADAC, AA, Narc-Anon, school officials, etc. together to coordinate their efforts and share information.

State level: It would be nice if states would fund diversion and treatment programs. The state police should take a leading role in interdicting interstate drug trafficking. This should not be a local police priority.

National level: Here is the important part. They need to determine why people are self-medicating themselves in record numbers and take steps to change societal pressures on people. Help states fund interdiction programs, but put a major focus on changing the big pressures on people like wages, healthcare, childcare and retirement. Give people confidence that they matter. National enforcement agencies need to coordinate international drug trafficking efforts, but must also realize that without a domestic demand for drugs, supplies will not be as large.

You see, all these levels need to do their own parts and coordinate with one another instead of bouncing around with knee-jerk fixes like what Senator Ayotte suggests.


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