In the war against drug addiction, a growing number of people are advocating treatment instead of punishment. One of the latest is Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette.

According to Schuette, drug overdoses killed 1,981 Michigan residents in 2015, more than twice the number of people who died in car accidents (963). In a 2017 editorial for the Detroit Free Press, Schuette recommended that authorities try to help drug addicts seek treatment for their disorder instead of punishing them for possessing drugs in the first place.

This opinion is different from previous officials in the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government on the federal and state levels. After all, the federal government has been fighting the war on drugs since the Nixon administration since the early 1970s. And who can forget Nancy Reagan urging us to “Just say no” in the 1980s?

Schuette’s views are a little surprising. Why? Well, in 2008, Schuette was a spokesperson for an organization that opposed the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Michigan. (Medical marijuana is now legal to registered users in the state.)

Michigan joins other states who have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Many advocates of medical marijuana say that it can relieve pain and nausea safely with few dangerous side effects, unlike the prescription opiate/opioid drugs also used for pain. Opiate/opioid drugs also can be highly addictive, while many people claim that marijuana is not physically addictive.

Did Schuette change his mind about drugs from 2008 to 2017? In his editorial, Schuette seems much more intent on helping people find treatment instead of prosecuting them for their drug habits. He advocates criminally punishing drug dealers, not users. He notes that the Trump presidential administration has pledged billions of dollars to help care for people and offers suggestions on how this money should be spent. One hopes such government efforts can help people find effective treatment.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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