Creating A More Effective Drug Policy

A resolution to accept $5,000 from the Drug Enforcement Administration to locate and eradicate marijuana plants passed unanimously at both Public Safety and Finance Committees (neither of which I serve on). It is scheduled for a vote at the full Board of Supervisors meeting on February 14.

Will this proposal help us to implement an effective drug policy?

Drug Crisis Has Huge Impact on Our Community

Many of us have been directly affected by the drug crisis. In 2016, Columbia County reported 13 deaths and 29 outpatient hospital visits due to opioid overdoses. SWAT raids for drug-related crimes are an all too common occurrence. And according to Hudson Police Chief Moore, the shootings and murder that happened last summer were drug-related.

Causes and Solutions

I would urge us to center major policy decisions on best available data. (In 2014, I wrote about Dr. Carl Hart’s work to create science-based drug policy.)

From the data, we have some key findings to help guide our policy.

  • Treatment and harm reduction services are effective.
  • Mass incarceration has devastated communities.
  • Supply drives demand, remove a drug source and it’s replaced with another.

Should We Prioritize Marijuana Eradication?

Given the overwhelming opioid problem, I wonder if marijuana eradication is the best use of resources. I also imagine that any marijuana plants that we destroy will be replaced by marijuana from other sources via New York City.

Focus on Priorities

The Drug Enforcement Administration is offering $5,000 to fund marijuana plant eradication. I worry that the Federal agency’s offer is distracting us from other, more important priorities. We should be careful to evaluate projects and take care not to let the lure of grant money set our priorities.

Will $5,000 towards eradicating marijuana plants make a real difference in the drug crisis? Will this $5,000 marijuana operation end up costing us more money or prevent us from taking more effective action elsewhere?

To date, the County has implemented many programs to provide better outcomes and is currently working on more. I appreciate these efforts and wonder if this marijuana eradication resolution will help or hinder those efforts.

I Want To Hear From You

I’m grateful to hear from so many constituents on this issue. And so far, the opinion has been overwhelmingly against the proposed resolution. Please reach out to me and let me know what you think prior to the February 14 vote.