The Future of U.S. Drug Policy
Currently the U.S. has several legal drugs and a number of illegal drugs that make up the variety of drug markets in the country. The new Trump administration will have to draw its attention to two types of drugs in terms of changing policy- cannabis and opioids. Recent years have seen changing and evolving attitudes toward cannabis and many states have voted to make the drug legal both for medicinal and recreational use. The latest election in November led to four states including California to vote for legal marijuana sales without the need for a medical recommendation. Just this last year, a Gallup poll found that public support for the legalization of cannabis had reached 60 percent which is the highest it has ever been.
Currently, eight states in the country issue permits to grow and sell cannabis even though the federal law still defines those actions as felonies. This can lead to problems because cannabis businesses are still not allowed to have checking accounts. It will be up to the new administration to determine how to handle the discrepancies between federal law and state laws regarding marijuana. Opioids are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to drug policies. Aggressive marketing and lenient prescription writing for opioid medication has led to rampant misuse and addiction to these types of drugs. To address the epidemic of opioid addiction that has spread across the country, the Trump administration will need to create some better policies that will make it more difficult to prescribe the medication unless it is needed for legitimate medical reasons. Trump also promised to help stem the tide of addiction by expanding drug treatment but this will be hard to accomplish with his new healthcare plan which rolls back the drug recovery funds provided under Obamacare.
Both the growing support for cannabis legalization and the need to decrease rising numbers of opioid addiction will be complicated issues that the new administration must face. Cannabis has been illegal under federal law for decades but with legalization at state level around the country, the law becomes more difficult to enforce. However, legalizing marijuana commercially could lead to some of the same issues concerning alcohol and the high rates of alcoholism in the U.S. Opioid addiction and rates of overdose have reached epidemic levels partially due to how often they are prescribed to patients which helped to create a black market. In order to create new drug policies that prevent addiction but also work with state legalization, there is a lot that Trump’s administration must consider when it comes to the future of drug use in the country.