So there I was flipping through the channels looking for something to cure my crippling case of ennui when BAM! I found a cop show following Miami’s Tactical Narcotics Team, or TNT for short because American’s fucking love acronyms, as they wage the war on drugs. It was easily one of the most inadvertently hilarious shows I’ve ever seen in my life.

I feel obliged to give you an insight on the fine gentlemen and women because not even Sacha Baron Cohen in his “Da Ali G Show” prime could have invented characters like these. I think I’m gonna describe them as a group partly because I don’t know their individual names and mostly because they are basically all the same person.

Firstly, they are all overweight. Watching them chase fit young drug dealers in the Florida heat is as comical as it is entertaining. They act as if they’re this hard core unit of anti-drug commando’s but I’d be surprised  if any of them can do 5 push-ups. It’s their sense of dress, however, that caught my attention at first. I’m talking camel toe’s and reverse camel toe’s all round. The members of TNT are apparently unaware that you wear your pants around your waist. Lest we forget their penchant for football jerseys and baggy t shirt’s. Hell, the one officer even wore two sweatbands on his arms because if an impromptu tennis match breaks out against a drug dealer he’ll be ready. Another member of TNT had a Bowie knife in a holster on his chest (He is yearning for a good knife fight apparently).

The behaviour of TNT is what shocked me the most; it was like watching an over exuberant bunch of children playing cops and robbers. It’s just that those children are well armed and dangerous. Talk about acting in a  retardedly reckless manner; five of them pulled their guns on a middle aged woman who’d just bought half a gram of crack. To be fair we all know down and out drug addicts are infamously violent. They’d bust some small time drug dealers with 500 dollars of drugs and make as if they had just crippled the Miami drug trade (The same Miami that is a major port of entry of for illegal drugs). The show was deadly serious but their behaviour was so absurdly childish that they were unwittingly satirising themselves.

Watching it got me thinking though, what do authorities think they achieve when they arrest a drug addict? They’re making a criminal out of someone who is sick, drug addiction is a disease. I can all ready hear some red neck saying ” WELL DEY CAN GO COLD TURKEY IN JAIL!!!111!!111″ (right before they go on to accuse Barack Obama of being a dirty Muslim) and I’m just gonna give them a preemptive fuck you.

People who think that there are no drugs in jail could just as well be of the opinion that “Alice in Wonderland” is a biography. That assumption has no basis in reality what so ever. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Policy exchange who conducted one of the largest independent surveys of prisoners ever undertaken in England and Wales. They discovered that up to 30,000 prisoners (35% of the total population) at any one time could be taking drugs, with 85% of prisoners confirming that they could get hold of illicit substances. A staggering 20% of respondents reported using heroin in jail and more than half claimed that the easy availability of drugs was preventing people from getting clean and rebuilding their lives. That’s only in England, I can’t even imagine what it’s like in the American prison system.

In July 2001, Portugal became the first European country to formalize decriminalization of drug possession for personal use, when they introduced Law 30/2000. The law decriminalized the use, possession and acquisition of all types of illicit substances for personal use, defined as being up to ten days supply of that substance. Holy shit, did people go insane. The prophets of doom were shouting from their ivory towers that there would be drug tourists everywhere! 3 year olds were gonna be injecting heroin into their eye balls!

Unsurprisingly, they were all wrong. Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006. By focusing on treatment – because that’s what you do with sick people – they saved lives. Instead of putting addicts in jail they put them in treatment centre’s where they stand a fighting chance of getting off drugs.

They didn’t legalise drugs as that would be retarded. They decriminalised it. That doesn’t mean I can walk around Lisbon with a plastic baggy of Heroin tied around my neck. Individuals found in possession of small quantities of drugs are issued summons. The drugs are confiscated, and the suspect is interviewed by a “Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction”. These commissions are made up of three people: A social worker, a psychiatrist, and an attorney (three people who are actually qualified to help, unlike TNT). The dissuasion commission have powers comparable to an arbitration committee, but restricted to cases involving drug use or possession of small amounts of drugs. If the person is addicted to drugs, he or she may be admitted to a drug rehabilitation facility or be given community service, if the dissuasion committee finds that this better serves the purpose of keeping the offender out of trouble. If the offender is not addicted to drugs, or unwilling to submit to treatment or community service, they may be given a fine.

They didn’t go limp dick on drug traffickers either, the penalties for the criminals who peddle and import drugs remains the same. If you’re involved in the drug trade and you’re caught you are going to jail. Simple as that. It freed up Portuguese police to tackle the criminal element instead of running around rounding up addicts. It’s not the people who take drugs it’s the fuckers who make and sell them who are the problem. It also saves the taxpayer a boatload of money. Who do you think pays for the up keep of prisoners? Keeping people out of jail has its fiscal benefits not only its social ones.

What’s sad though is that I can throw as much common sense and statistics at certain people and they’d still call me a Liberal douchefag or something to that effect. We have nothing to gain from the policy we’re running at the moment and the sooner we get around to treating drug addiction instead of punishing it, the better.

References:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/19/prison-mandatory-drug-testing-figures

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugal_2001_decriminalization_of_drug_use

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

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