Decriminalize Opioids

We are in the midst of a crisis in this country. Opioids are killing 8 Americans every hour and that trend has only increased over the past several years.

While those who brought this plague on our citizens must face serious consequences, we need to make sure that those who are afflicted by the illness of addiction are treated and not criminalized. The individuals behind pharmaceutical companies who promoted these drugs as non-addictive while knowing better are the ones who belong in jail, not those who fell prey to addiction.

We need to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of opioids. Other countries, such as Portugal, have done so, and have seen treatment go up and drug deaths and addiction go down. When caught with a small quantity of any opioid, our justice system should err on the side of providing treatment.

Opioid addiction is rampant in our country.  In 2016, more than 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids and 2.1 million had an addiction to heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids. This is a public health crisis, and the top priority has to be getting Americans well. Many Americans are not seeking treatment because they are afraid of life-destroying criminal penalties. We need to remove the stigma of an addiction that literally millions of Americans are struggling with. The War on Drugs has not worked. We need to give more American families and communities a real chance to get well, and we need to evolve from a punitive approach that does not serve the public. If you are caught with a small amount of drugs, we should refer you straight to treatment, not a prison cell.

Problems to be Solved

  • The opioid epidemic is widespread, growing, and taking the lives of 8 Americans every hour.
  • Those addicted to opioids are suffering from a disease, not from a criminal mind.
  • Many of those addicted started down that path because of a legal prescription, based on lies from the pharmaceutical companies about the non-addictive nature of these drugs.
Guiding Principles:
  • Humanity
  • Health
Goals
  • Provide treatment instead of punishment for those found with small quantities of opioids
  • Bring the number of deaths due to opioids down

As President, I will…

  • Drastically increase funding to treatment programs for opioid users, through fines levied against the companies that marketed these drugs.
  • Decriminalize, at the federal level, small quantities of opioid use and possession (anything under 5-10 days of personal use).
  • Make treatment programs much more available and affordable to anyone found with small quantities of these drugs.
  • Provide grants for their own treatment programs to states that decriminalize small quantities of opioid use/possession.

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