Happy to be passing this incredible information along:
I’m excited to let you know that we just launched Uprooting the Drug War, our major new initiative that exposes the insidious ways the drug war has taken root in six critical systems: education, employment, housing, child welfare, immigration, and public benefits.
We all know that drug war policies have resulted in the criminalization, arrest, and incarceration of low-income people and people of color. But the harms and impact of the drug war go far beyond the criminal legal system — its roots are deeply embedded in almost every aspect of daily life.
Uprooting the Drug War is an interactive website with a series of reports, resources, and personal stories to raise awareness and illustrate how the drug war has infiltrated systems we depend on and doled out punishments that go far beyond arrest and incarceration.
Even as there is growing momentum for treating drug use as a matter of personal and public health, the systems on which we would normally rely to advance an alternative approach are infested with the same culture of punishment as the criminal legal system.
Uprooting the Drug War exposes where the “drug war logic” of punishment instead of support fuels policies that compound the harms suffered by people who use drugs and people who are targeted by drug war enforcement. It reveals how punishment for drug use is not limited to the criminal legal system — it shows up in the very systems that people interact with on a daily basis.
Did you know?
- The drug war obstructs public benefits and denies people necessities for health and well-being. Over 25% of states require welfare applicants to submit to the invasive and humiliating procedure of peeing in a cup to be drug tested. Many applicants must pay for drug tests themselves. Refusal to take a test can mean denial of benefits. The result of these policies? Financial and food insecurity.
- The drug war targets and fuels the deportation of Black & Latinx immigrants. Despite marijuana legalization, marijuana offenses were one of the most common reasons people were deported in 2019. For non-citizens, drug law violations — even selling $10 worth of drugs — can have dire impacts: ineligibility for asylum, denial of citizenship, deportation.
- The drug war invades our homes and blocks people from stable places to live. An entire family can be kicked out of public housing if one family member is even suspected of using drugs — even if the family member does not live in public housing themselves. Kicking people out of their homes leads to increased overdose deaths, employment instability, and school dropout rates.
- The drug war robs livelihoods and limits access to stable employment. 18 states allow all employers to conduct drug testing regardless of job function. Drug testing applicants and employees has NO effect on workplace safety and productivity. What does it do? Invades privacy. Wastes money. Shuts out people who use drugs from stable jobs. Off-the-clock use is not an employment issue.
- The drug war warps our ability to provide real support to our students and children in need. 10 million students are in schools that have law enforcement policing student drug use but no social workers. Police subject students to drug tests, drug-sniffing dogs, and drug arrests. Despite NO evidence that police improve safety or reduce drug use, the number of cops in schools keeps growing.
- The drug war breaks up families and removes children from their homes. Half of all states and D.C. require doctors to report any suspicion of drug use to child welfare authorities regardless of whether it’s impacting the child. Mandatory reporting is NOT a reflection of whether someone is a good parent, does NOT increase health of fetus or newborn, increases distrust between patients and their doctors, and leads to family separation.
The drug war has wormed its way into all these systems, harms everyone, and impacts every aspect of life. It is not enough to simply stop arrests or get people out of prisons and jails. To end the drug war, we need to uproot it from all systems — but we can’t do it alone.
It’s a collective and intersectional fight that must happen in partnership with people like you and allies from everywhere the drug war touches. This project has been years in the making and it’s a call to action for all of us to work together, across movements, to fully extract the drug war and its culture of criminalization from our communities.
I hope you will visit Uprooting the Drug War and share it on social media. And please stay tuned over the coming months as we continue to dig deeper into how the drug war has warped our systems, wormed its way into our daily lives, and what we can do about it.
|With gratitude and hope,