Does more punishment solve the drug problem?

A common talking point about the “War on Drugs” or drug crimes in general is the amount of legal punishment that should be applied to someone accused and/or convicted of drug crimes. People who are accused of such crimes face a mountain of penalties, from extensive jail time to massive fines and other legal penalties. There are also mandatory minimums in some cases, where no matter the circumstances of the case, the individual accused faces many years in prison as a base punishment.

We bring all of this up in the context of Florida law, which already permits the police to target drug suppliers for murder in the cases of cocaine and heroin. Lower-level dealers are not subject to his law — yet.

Apparently Florida lawmakers are considering an expansion of this law in the next legislative session. If this expansion comes to pass, then lower-level dealers could be targeted for murder in drug overdose cases. In addition, cases that involve other drugs, such as fentanyl, synthetic drugs and opioids, could be included in the expansion.

The question is this: would these changes actually do anything to curb drug dealing? Or would it simply lock people up for longer, harming individuals and society be perpetuating a cycle of excessive legal punishment?

Whatever the moral or ethical arguments are for this topic, this shows the imperative nature of a criminal defense attorney in these cases. There is simply so much at stake in drug cases for the accused individual that they need to have experienced legal counsel.

Source: Miami Herald, “Drug dealers as murderers? Proposed Florida law targets sellers fueling overdose crisis,” David Ovalle, March 6, 2017