We need new metrics for measuring the success of our nation's drug policies. Rather than measuring success based on slight fluctuations in drug use, the primary measure of effectiveness should be the reduction of drug-related harm – such as overdose deaths, drug addiction, and the transmission of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Critically, though, our drug policies should also be evaluated based on the harms caused by the policies themselves. We need to reduce the enormous numbers of people behind bars for drug law violations. We also need to end the corruption, turf violence, public distrust of law enforcement, environmental damage, breakup of families, loss of civil liberties, collateral sanctions like removal of financial aid for students, and racial disparities in drug law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing. Our drug policies should be judged – and funded – according to their ability to meet these goals.
Syringe Disease Infection
Number of people annually infected with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C by sharing contaminated syringes.