Social policy in the U.S. and other global countries has become a battling ground between various political lobbying groups. Often the specific decisions and initiatives are not conducted independently, but instead attached to a political party or a non-profit organization whose sponsors display traceable political pursuits. This tendency results in social policy-focused legislations then being called into question by volunteers, media, and the general public. This paper focuses on one of the most illustrative examples of this tendency, namely the public policy stanza on drug abuse and restricted substance control.
The prevalence of the issue is caused by the widespread problem of increased rates of drug and alcohol abuse in the United States. Already rampant in urban centres, the issue intensified during the COVID-19 restrictions and the following isolation experienced by the population. According to the CDC, drug overdose fatalities in the United States topped 72,000, with the established tendencies outlining future increases as probable.
Illicit methamphetamine production outside of the United States is also on the rise, with illegal import operations ensuring the substance is brought through the boarder. Strictly established drug criminalization policies have therefore been established, with general media opinion focusing on the ongoing stigma and social pressure enforced on drug addicts (Danquah-Brobby, 2017). The efficiency of this approach has been called into question, but the closer inspection identifies major ethical issues within it. Despite the mass presence of the issues, the communities within the general population are affected disproportionally.
Impoverished districts predominantly populated by people of colour reportedly suffer from greater rates of substance abuse and drug-affiliated crimes. Statistics indicate that Black men in particular are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for the possession or carrying of the marijuana (Hankivsky & Jordan-Zachary, 2019).
The clear racial disparity in these arrests have been a subject of attention both for the family members and friends of the accused and the volunteer organization members. Multiple factors play into the injustice in question, including the prevalent racism amongst police officers and the correlation between the likelihood of drug use and the level of social security. Considering the low levels of trust exhibited by the risk group members to the police, and the unequal distribution of opportunities they face, uneven drug use rates are not surprising.
The ethics behind the punishment-oriented methods of combating drug addiction issues is questionable, as many of the pre-requisites to the systemic drug abuse stem from the impoverishment and discrimination. The inequalities are perpetuated further by the treatment of the accused within the justice system and afterwards. With marijuana legalized in multiple states the debate arose between those in favour of drug criminalization and those advocating for safe use and human rights activists on the inmates’ fate. The act of federal taxation of cannabis was undergoing development as recently as in August 2021, seemingly continuing the shift towards legalization of cannabis in the State (Gray, 2021). These tendencies in turn are likely to spark a debate between those in favour of continuous criminalization and those against it.
In conclusion, multiple social and cultural factors complicate the public policy issue of combating drug abuse and managing drug use. Systemic inequalities observed in those who are most likely to be affected by the policies in question in turn originate from the intersectional discrimination and institutional racism, further complicating the issue. The federal taxation act, however, has the potential of reinforcing the ongoing discussions on the topic in the media, maintaining the public’s focus on the degree of absurdity of the situation.
Danquah-Brobby, E. (2017). Comment: Prison For You. Profit For Me. Systemic Racism Effectively Bars Blacks From Participation in Newly-Legal Marijuana Industry. University of Baltimore Law Review, 46(3), p. 5. Web.
Gray, G. (2021). Federal Taxation of Cannabis: A Primer – AAF. AAF. Web.
Hankivsky, O., & Jordan-Zachery, J. (2019). Introduction: Bringing Intersectionality to Public Policy. The Palgrave Handbook Of Intersectionality In Public Policy, 1-28. Web.