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A new report by The Sentencing Project, Opioids: Treating an Illness, Ending a War by Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Casey Anderson, affirms the need for a public health response to the current drug crisis and underscores that the War on Drugs did not play a major role in ebbing past cycles of drug use.
While the association of this drug crisis with whites has promoted more empathetic responses, the pace of the overall response has been slow. Critical components of the solution—such as Medicaid expansion and improved access to medication-assisted treatment—face resistance, and there are growing efforts to increase punitive responses.
Given the preponderance of evidence establishing that incarceration for drug use and sales is not an effective remedy for substance use disorder, The Sentencing Project recommends that policymakers: