Research evidence suggests that the criminalization of drug use and possession has roots in explicit racism and reinforces inequality. A broad coalition of professionals writing in the American Journal of Bioethics seeks to rectify the havoc wrought by the War on Drugs on racialized communities. The coalition calls for evidence-based and ethical new policies, including the immediate decriminalization and regulation of recreational drugs, expunging nonviolent convictions related to small quantity possessions, and the release of prisoners serving time for similar offenses.
The moral model of substance use implicit in the War on Drugs in America has made it difficult to replace the stigma associated with substance abuse and addictive disorders with more accurate and humane frameworks. Such frameworks take social context and identity into account, which is a useful way to address the complex interrelations and impacts of race, discrimination, poverty, and mental health on drug use.