En lugar de redoblar las políticas prohibicionistas contraproducentes, los gobiernos deberían invertir en alternativas sanitarias basadas en pruebas, servicios de apoyo y mejores enfoques de la regulación, como un suministro más seguro. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.
Stories of narcotics-related death and debasement flooded the media. Politicians stoked panic about marijuana. Parents feared that teenagers would tip into addiction. Congress held hearings.
"We need only to recall what we have read in the papers this past week to realize that more and more younger people are falling into the clutches of unscrupulous dope peddlers,” a representative insisted, urging passage of legislation imposing tough mandatory minimum sentences for drugs.
I might be describing events that occurred in the 1970s or 1980s, or even this year, as dozens of states and the federal government consider — and some enact — tougher penalties for users and sellers of fentanyl and its derivatives.
But the legislation mentioned here — the Boggs Act, named for Representative Hale Boggs of Louisiana — was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1951. It remained on the books until 1970.
With the horror of some 100,000 annual overdose deaths in the 2020s, and the deadly nature of illegal synthetic drugs, it’s easy to think that imposing longer, tougher sentences might save lives by deterring sales. Some bereaved parents describe their children’s deaths as “poisonings” and want the government to treat fentanyl as a “weapon of mass destruction.” They demand that dealers be held to account with prison terms commensurate with murder, calling specifically for what are now labeled “drug-induced homicide” laws.
But the recent history of mandatory drug sentencing — nationally and in New York — holds crucial lessons for those who want to end today’s crisis of illegally manufactured fentanyl.