The president has been on an anti-opioid tear, and at the top of his three-legged agenda is executing drug dealers. While this sort of rhetoric may feel good in the moment, these emotional impulses make bad laws and more importantly miss the bigger picture.
Social engineering will not make people demand fewer drugs. It just doesn't work. The drug war has failed, and all you have to do is visit decimated neighborhoods that have been riddled with violence and robbed of fathers who butted up against big government. When it comes to prohibition, a little government goes a long way. It's like body glitter, less is more.
Alcohol prohibition doubled the murder rate in a very short time period, and gun prohibition turns cities into Chicago.
What does drug prohibition bring us? Opioid overdoses, mass incarceration and imbalanced sentencing that destroys families and lives.
Losing someone to a drug overdose is the worst. People die because they either take a toxic combination of multiple substances, or they put something unknown in their bodies that healthy systems can't handle. The inconvenient part of drug addiction is there are two consensual sides to these transactions, so cutting off supply does nothing for demand—except create more overdoses once a sober inmate shoots up again and with a diminished tolerance meets the ultimate end.
Addressing drug addiction and treatment is the only right and moral way to have this discussion, but changing behavior through force is not only fruitless, it is costly and deadly, and the unintended consequences haunt families for generations. Other than that, we are wise to model our criminal justice system after human rights violators like China and the Philippines.