We need to reform how we combat drug abuse and addiction in this country. A story in The Atlantic shows why.

But let’s focus here on the anecdote about Horner, because it gets at the utter madness of the War on Drugs. For the sake of argument, let’s presume he’s guilty of selling $1,800 of pain pills prescribed to him for an injury. Forget that he was arguably entrapped. Just look at the crime in isolation. What sort of punishment should it carry?

You’ve got a 46-year-old employed father caught selling four bottles of prescription pain pills. “Under Florida law Horner now faced a minimum sentence of 25 years, if found guilty,” the BBC reports.

Twenty-five years minimum! 

This doesn’t seem like a case where the punishment fits the crime. This is a case where the costs of incarceration would be better spent elsewhere. Not to mention the abuses of government power which have come as a result of the War on Drugs such as no-knock search warrants and how drug prohibition has fueled the growth of street gangs and organized crime. Finally, it has ravaged poor and minority communities as members of both groups are disproportionately impacted by drugs.

You do not have to believe in drug prohibition to know that the way we combat drug abuse and drug addiction in this country is madness. It would be more cost efficient money wise and less injurious to civil liberties to treat it as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice matter, let alone a war.