As the Trump administration begins to shape its policy on drugs, tension is growing between a treatment-focused approach, embodied in a new commission on opioids headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the aggressive prosecution of drug crimes promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
There need there be no tension because there is no contradiction. The two approaches—nail hard those who prey on the vulnerable and the addicted—and working to free the addicted from the controls of their addiction (“free from the controls” because an addict never loses his addiction; he can only reach a point where he can say reliably, “not today.” That’s where current medical technology has us) rather than simply jailing them, too, potentiate each other.
But what about the user who pushes, also? He certainly needs help getting his addiction under control, and jail won’t help that. But he also deserves jail for that preying on his fellow addicts—he knows firsthand the damage he’s doing. But the two can occur sequentially.