National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Nora Volkow isn’t one to mince her words, and her recent utterances about the effects of the failed war on drugs are stirring debate about how much longer the federal government can remain inactive on matters of ending cannabis prohibition.
During an interview by NIH Medline Plus Magazine, the NIDA director said that the criminalization of individuals who use drugs has had the effect of creating structurally racist systems which have allowed society to treat some sections of the population, especially Blacks, in a way that is worse than the way in which other segments of the population are treated. This candid admission from the top federal government official has attracted the attention of reform advocates, including Zachery Siegal, who tweeted that Volkow recognized and straight-up stated that criminalizing drug use is actually harmful to those who use drugs.
Volkow also mentioned that criminalizing addiction and jailing those dealing with addictions has far-reaching effects on those individuals. These effects can impact mental as well as physical health, disruption of families and inability to find suitable employment, as well as crushing the self-confidence of those impacted. The insurance system, the healthcare system and communities are all affected by the criminalization of drug use. Volkow also reiterated that the federal agency that she heads is working to address those issues.
In the interview, Volkow also discussed the upcoming rebranding of NIDA from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the National Institute on Drug Addiction. She emphasized that the change was intended to move away from using a word with negative connotations (abuse) to one that recognizes the situation as a health problem (addiction).
The NIDA director stated that stigma surrounding drug use has penetrated every sphere of society. For example, people remain silent about substance-use problems because they fear going to jail or being shunned and blamed by the community. Insurers also aren’t willing to fund needed treatment, and healthcare systems don’t devote ample human and financial resources to the matter because they see it as an individual’s poor choice or a criminal matter.
It should be noted that Volkow saw a family member struggle with addiction, which prompted her to specialize in psychiatry research. Her acceptance of the NIDA job was motivated by her desire to contribute toward changing the way in which substance use and addiction are handled at a national and policy level. Volkow has been vocal on several occasions about the problems triggered by the current policies on drugs. Her agency has published notices indicating that funding is available for various drug-related programs, such as exploring various models of regulating marijuana.
The efforts of NIDA and other such progressive federal agencies are in their own way contributing to ending prohibition, and a time will come when companies in the cannabis space, such as Prime Harvest Inc., are legally recognized as legitimate businesses by the federal government.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Prime Harvest Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/PRIME
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