National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Developing new drug policies committed to reducing harm

 |  NCR Today

A week ago, I facilitated a working dinner on drug policy. The organizer, the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, had sought a dozen diverse participants. We got them.

The drug court rep saw drug addicts as his constituents. Probation and Parole wants to keep convicted felons from returning to prison. The community organizer who works with youth gang members would ban alcohol as well as drugs from his neighborhood while the defense attorney wants decriminalization -- relief for those charged as felons for possession of small amounts of drugs. Legal Services brought up the heavy burden the legal system imposes on the poor who have a previous drug conviction.

For a while, the discussion was hot. But gradually, after everyone had spoken for their constituents, they began to find common ground, policies that they all want to see enacted.

Light-of-Truth-friends-2016.jpgNCR's award-winning reporting and commentary are possible because of support from people like you. Give today.

  1. Increased community-based inpatient treatment
  2. Transitional housing
  3. Drug testing generally used for therapeutic, not punitive, purposes
  4. Attention to co-occurring issues, like schizophrenia and addiction
  5. Good Samaritan immunity for heroin overdoses to encourage 911 calls
  6. A central registry for prescription meds (Missouri is the only state without one.)
  7. Expand drug court eligibility to include addicts with violent felony convictions

Underlying this policy wish list was recognition of the need for money: funding for treatment, for housing, for early childhood education, for development of positive messages to teens and curriculum to enhance decision-making skills.

Above all, everyone shares a commitment to harm reduction. We all see that current policies often increase human suffering. I ended the meeting promptly, after two hours, as promised. To my satisfaction, folks stayed another half an hour and kept talking.

The dinner was the weekend before the election. The state votes for marijuana use move these conversations out of the hypothetical realm.


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS